Faucets at $1,000 Abound as Home Equity Spigot Opens
A year ago, New Jersey contractor Michael Mroz’s customers were focused on saving money when renovating kitchens and baths, he said. Now, with a resurgence of home equity lending, they’re ready to pay for the best.
“People don’t want granite countertops — they want marble costing at least 25 percent more,” said Mroz, owner of Michael Robert Construction in Westfield, an affluent town less than an hour’s commute to Manhattan. “Money is so cheap today, people can splurge on $1,000 faucets.”
Spending on home renovations is rising to records as banks such as Wells Fargo & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) increase lending for home equity lines of credit, or Helocs, after property prices this year gained at a pace not seen since the last housing boom. Heloc originations could rise 16 percent this year and reach another five-year high in 2014, according to Mustafa Akcay, an economist for Moody’s Analytics, powering the earnings of Home Depot Inc. (HD) and boosting the economic expansion.
Helocs are making a comeback as the housing market recovers enough to make the junior mortgages a safer bet for banks more than seven years after the beginning of the housing crash that saddled them with billions of dollars of losses. The median price for an existing home probably will gain 11 percent this year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington, after plunging about 33 percent during the crash.
Because this time it’s different…