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'Nesting is investing' as home improvement spending set to hit $321 billion

Home equity is back, and headed for the bathroom — or the kitchen or the garage or wherever today's homeowners see the greatest returns.

Higher home prices have given people cash back and they are putting that cash to work in more — and bigger — remodeling projects.

Growth in home improvement and repair expenditures will reach 8 percent by the start of 2017, according to a new report from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing. That is far beyond its 4.9 percent historical average.

"By the middle of next year, the national remodeling market should be very close to a full recovery from its worst downturn on record," said Abbe Will, research analyst in the remodeling futures program at the Joint Center. "Annual spending is set to reach $321 billion by then, which after adjusting for inflation is just shy of the previous peak set in 2006 before the housing crash."

Increased home equity is certainly playing a large role, as are near-record low...


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