New Trend in Consumer Demand Impacts Home Improvement Industry Amidst Housing Market Crisis; Leaf Home CEO Jon Bostock for Fortune

A home should be a sanctuary, a safe place to feel sheltered against the chaos and threats of the outside world. But with the recent onslaught of record-breaking natural disasters, many Americans are feeling increasingly vulnerable. In the past year alone, we’ve endured the hottest summer on record, devastating wildfires in Canada and Hawaii, flooding in Vermont and New York City, and hurricanes in both Los Angeles and Maine.

The situation is especially problematic considering American homes aren’t getting any younger. In fact, 38% of homes in the U.S. were built before 1970–and the median age of homes in America is 40 years. With aging roofs, insufficient drainage, and outdated systems, many homes are in desperate need of upgrades to improve their resiliency.

Unfortunately, affordability is a challenge for many Americans, especially when it comes to major renovations. Supplies and labor are prohibitively expensive, and interest rates on home equity lines of credit–the typical financing option for home improvement–have reached historic highs. And with home prices expected to rise and mortgage rates at a 23-year peak, trading up to a more resilient home is out of the question for many.

The American housing market’s crisis is not just impacting homeowners but also home improvement and real estate professionals. Both industries face obstacles to meeting their clients’ expectations for affordable, yet functional offerings in a very difficult economy. Not to mention, there’s a huge shortage of skilled tradespeople–the plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and HVAC specialists who actually do the work. More than 3 million skilled trades jobs are expected to go unfilled by 2028.

This combination of factors is driving a major shift in consumer demand toward home hardening: enhancements that make homes safer and more resilient while protecting the homeowner’s investment in the face of persistent threats. Unlike typical home improvement projects intended to modernize or improve aesthetics, home hardening aims specifically at making it less vulnerable to physical threats, such as wildfires, water damage, contamination, utility outages, and more.

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