Homes remained in disrepair because finances were also in disrepair due to job loss or furlough during the pandemic. Among households where financial stress was the cause of delayed repairs, broken appliances (34%), water damage (31%), electrical issues (30%), and roof repairs (29%) were the top tasks put on hold.
This data is certain to make any real estate investor cringe; the nature of these tasks is such that the longer they go untouched, the more expensive it can be to repair them later.
The Sears survey found that the most common repairs done during the pandemic usually cost under $400. The most frequent projects done were to repair or replace the fridge ($339) or sink ($154), fix electrical issues ($283), or repair the AC ($365). The most expensive common home improvements include roof repairs ($700) or HVAC repairs ($717); only around 12% of those surveyed completed each of these.
But even if an important repair was done, it didn't necessarily mean peace of mind for the homeowner. In fact, more than 1 in 3 homeowners say that they regretted paying for repairs during the pandemic.
From the responses in general, it's clear that keeping a roof over one's head -- even a leaky one -- is of paramount importance to homeowners during the pandemic.
What it means for investors
The Sears survey included 1,000 respondents, but the results could reflect a much larger pool of homeowners with repairs that have fallen by the wayside. In areas where property inventory is low, homeowners might even forgo big fixes like a new roof and sell a home as-is if it means taking advantage of a hot seller's market.
For fix-and-flip investors, this means you could be looking at properties with considerable work that needs to be done outside of any cosmetic upgrades you budgeted for. And while you might have to dig deeper into your pocket for your next flip, there's good news: Homeowners recognize the value in these important repairs, so you could be rewarded with a higher sale price for your property.
The bottom line
The pandemic put many things in perspective for people. Priorities shifted for homeowners in such a way that even necessary home projects and tasks were put on pause. Now that we're in the second year of the "new normal," time will tell whether those projects will be taken off pause or put on a full stop.