More people buy existing houses than build new ones. It is common practice for new homeowners to renovate, remodel, and generally alter their home to make it more to their liking and better suit their lifestyle. Enterprising decorative concrete professionals can easily capitalize on this fact.
According to the National Association of Homebuilders, there were 9.4 million housing starts (seasonally adjusted) in the US during 2016, or an average of 785,000 each month. The number of new homes built in your area will depend of local forces such as zoning laws, population growth and economic health. Unless you operate in a heavily populated and/or dynamic area, relying on new home construction can be limiting. It is also important to remember the complications and gatekeepers that come with new construction – general contractors, architects, developers, and homebuilders. For the concrete contractor, especially one focusing on decorative work, this can make finding opportunity with new construction difficult.
On the other hand, there are 71 million existing homes sales (seasonally adjusted) every year, according to the National Association of Realtors. That means, on a monthly average, as many existing homes are sold in a two month period as are built all year. Take this with a grain of salt, however, because not all of these homes sold are owner-occupied (the prime target for significant, decorative renovations) and not all homes will undergo significant renovations shortly after sale. But, considering the US Census Bureau says 60% if all homes are owner occupied (57%) or vacation homes (3%), there is still arguably far more opportunity in the existing home market. Also consider that 92% of all owner occupied homes have a patio, deck, balcony, or porch (US Census Bureau).
All of those statistics can be summarized in one simple statement: you’re more likely to make a sale going after existing homes than you are new construction. New construction may seem attractive because it’s easier to find – just find the next big subdivision or tract development – but there is relatively limited opportunity unless you have the right relationships and the right environment. Improvements and renovations to existing homes, however, represent a fertile option.
The first step, of course, is determining what kind of services to offer. Thankfully for the decorative concrete contractor, there’s really no limit. Freshly placed stamped concrete, the bread and butter for many, is always an option – especially when homeowners plan on doing extensive work to their yard, patio, and/or pool deck. Staining and overlays are quick and easy ways to get in the front door, as well. They are good when the homeowners wants a minimally invasive way to improve the appearance of their existing exterior or interior concrete. Whatever you choose to offer, make sure it’s something the customer will be happy with for years to come. Do good work and make sure to offer the best solution.
The next step is finding the work. One reason new home construction is more attractive to pursue is because new homes tend to be built in the same area all at once. They’re easier to find… but not always the easiest job to land. To find potential customers for renovation, peruse home listings. Most listing services, such as Zillow and Trulia, allow you to see recently sold homes. This is perfect if you want to focus in on specific potential clients. If you want to cast a broader net, go after neighborhoods that have had a number of homes sold recently. You can also find developments and neighborhoods that were built 10 to 20 years ago, generally in moderate to high income areas, and canvas those areas.
Renovation is attractive work because you deal directly with the end user. There are fewer gatekeepers and fewer hoops to jump through to get the job. In some ways, these jobs can even breed new opportunities, as people talk and recommend you… or they feel the need to “keep up with the Jones’.” It may not have the same visceral appeal as signing that big contract for a luxury housing development, but it is more attainable and sustainable.