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'HGTV' effect causes record home renovations

Canadians are fixing up their homes like never before, and it may be partly because of home renovation TV programs, according to a new report.

“Willingness, at least in part, can be attributed to what is sometimes referred to as the ‘HGTV’ effect,” wrote Altus Group Economic Consulting in a housing report. “Many homeowners did not know how badly they really wanted new designer kitchens and bathrooms until then.”

The report refers to HGTV, a lifestyle channel that focuses on home improvement, which launched in 1997.

The renovation industry raked in $63.4 billion in 2013 alone – a number that represents around 3.7 percent of Canada’s total GDP. 

But the fuel provided by the home renovation TV craze is only half of the equation.

“The increasing willingness was reinforced by improved ability and affordability to undertake renovations,” Altus Group wrote in the report.

Lower interest rates and rising home values have allowed homeowners to tap into more equity for big upgrades.

“Essentially, homeowners pulled money out of their homes, only to put it right back in.”

Renovations costs are expected to grow fastest in Alberta in 2014 and 2015, with a five percent projected increase in spending for each year, according to the report.

Although British Columbia and Atlantic Canada are expected to lag behind at a slower pace, Altus Group's outlook for the sector is positive.

"The good news for firms in the renovation sector is that we don't foresee an end to the expansion trend in the near term."

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