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WNC Business

Housing market shifts change focus of accessory sectors

Mar 20, 2024 09:58AM ● By Randee Brown

Several business sectors exist as accessories to the real estate and construction industries including landscape, renovation, interior design, handyman services, and more. As the real estate market has become more challenging for many people to enter, renovating or expanding existing spaces has become increasingly popular, according to Carolina Outdoor Lighting Co-owner Maja Potocki.

“People aren’t buying as much right now,” Potocki said. “If they’re wanting a change but staying in the same house, they are investing money by repurposing and improving what they already have.”

Carolina Outdoor Lighting works alongside builders and landscape architects to install intentional outdoor lighting solutions for property owners. Potocki said property improvements like these increase the value of a home, and when the property value of one home is increased, it helps increase the value of neighboring homes as well.

“Investments in home and landscape improvements are meant to be enjoyed,” Potocki said. “It also encourages neighbors to make their own improvements, and invites a certain type of resident to relocate to that area later on. It can really raise the bar for the whole neighborhood.”

With the popularity of WNC increasing and more people relocating to the area, people renovating, expanding, and upgrading their property are earning “loads of sweat equity,” according to Potocki. Property values in the area are only going to appreciate, and she is noticing more people choosing to invest in their current home rather than selling now, anticipating an even bigger return later. 

“These homeowners can make a profit now, but many are adding value to their homes and keeping them because there’s no way to buy a similar or better home in the region with that same money,” Potocki said. “Asheville is only expanding. Personally, I’d never sell right now. If I choose to improve my house instead and wait, I’ll be making way more. If I stay and my kids eventually inherit my house, they will have even more money if and when they decide to sell.”

While outdoor lighting, along with other types of home improvements, is an investment of initial cost, homeowners’ investments also include the time and energy it takes to coordinate the project. The homeowner takes time to research companies to find someone they trust. There is effort on their part to schedule and coordinate when to be present for the work to be done. 

“If someone takes an hour to make phone calls and schedule contractor appointments, they’re not working for that hour,” Potocki said. “Once a project is scheduled, owners have to keep tabs on the work being done to make sure it’s all done right. Not everyone is willing to take that on, so any improvements end up adding way more value than the initial cost of the work.”

Potocki said since 2020, the trend in improvements has been focused on outdoor living spaces. Carolina Outdoor Lighting received many cancellation calls at the beginning of COVID, but most of those customers and more called later during the pandemic to begin their improvement projects. That trend has continued through 2023.

People are realizing the value of improving their outdoor spaces, according to Potocki. Call volume has increased exponentially for her business, and she also sees an increase in the addition of things like decks and outdoor kitchens. 

“Outdoor living is continuing to grow,” Potocki said. “The entire home services industry is getting more business because people are staying in their homes. They want to make their whole property stand out and improve what they have.”

Property owners running vacation rentals can boost their business with improvements like outdoor lighting, as can real estate agents working with sellers. Potocki said photos of improved outdoor spaces increase the desirability of those rentals, and photos showing that outdoor spaces can be enjoyed, especially at night, can entice more buyers to homes available for sale.

“People want to enjoy their experience in any home, whether it’s theirs or someone else’s, and highlighting nighttime ambiance makes that property more attractive,” Potocki said. “It makes customers more comfortable in the new environment and makes the driveway and home more approachable. It’s a big benefit for anyone in the business of renting or selling a home.”

Photo by Maja Potacki