At Home, With a Long List of Needed Repairs

While we’re stuck inside during the pandemic, it’s easy to find things that need improvement at home — from emergency repairs to ugly kitchens. So it’s little surprise that many Americans are taking on renovation projects. First quarter 2020 sales were up 7.1 percent at Home Depot and 11.2 percent at Lowe’s compared with the first quarter of 2019. Interest in our own articles about organizing, D.I.Y. renovation and interior design also attests to the trend.

How are people paying for all this as the economy turns south? In many cases, by borrowing. According to LendingTree, applications for personal loans to help finance home-improvement projects were up 7.8 percent in the first week of June over the same period last year.

In a survey of 1,236 customers who applied for a personal loan for home improvement between Jan. 1 and June 1, LendingTree found that a third of respondents cited the pandemic as the reason. According to the survey, 25 percent of the loan applicants needed money for home or appliance repair emergencies, 27 percent needed money for nonemergency renovations, 3 percent wanted (not needed) new appliances or furniture, and 45 percent fell in the “other” category.

This week’s charts show how survey participants who were approved for their loans spent the money, both for emergency and nonemergency home projects.

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