Apr 5 2015 5735 1 Homeowners Are Putting Money Back Into Their Homes

Apr 5 2015 5735 1 Homeowners Are Putting Money Back Into Their Homes

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The economy is getting better, so it's time to paint the walls.Consumers in Broward and Palm Beach counties are spending more money on decorating, painting, wallpaper and window treatments as home prices improve and the recession fades from view, state tax data show.In Broward County, sales tax receipts for those expenses jumped 38 percent in January from a year ago, to $557,277, according to the most recent data from the Florida Department of Revenue.It was one of the biggest increases of all the things people spend money on. Total sales tax receipts were up 5.9 percent during the same period, to $206 million.In Palm Beach County, sales tax receipts for decorating, painting, wallpaper and window treatments grew 19 percent in a year, to $932,214 in January. Overall, sales tax increased 10.3 percent in the county during that time, to $161 million.Some people are spending because they have more money in an improving economy, according to analysts and businesspeople. Others are sprucing up their homes to sell as the housing market heats up.Either way, "the consumer is coming back," said economist William B. Stronge, a professor emeritus at Florida Atlantic University.Keith Gruebele of Pembroke Pines is among the confident consumers. He said he is looking at remodeling his bathrooms and wants to install new flooring throughout his house."This is a want, not a need," he said. "Now seemed like the best time to make investments into my real estate where I would gain maximum dollars on the return. The fact that the economy is more stable makes me feel more comfortable spending money from my nest egg on home improvements."In Delray Beach, David Braunstein said he has seen better times financially, but he decided to go ahead and get most rooms in his home repainted — calming light blue walls for bedrooms, calm beige for the rest of the house."The house needed it," he said. "Paint lasts only so long."Higher spending gives a boost to businesspeople like painter Charles Michel in Coconut Creek, who said he has had so much business lately that he has turned away potential clients. "Things have definitely picked up," he said.Lisa Peterford, regional manager of Five Star Painting in Boca Raton, has seen the same thing. "The economy is doing so much better," she said. "That makes a huge difference.""It is way better than it was four years ago," said Billy Isaac, manager of Miller Paint in Fort Lauderdale.It's a dramatic change from 2010-2011, when people in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties on average slashed spending by nearly $10,000 a year from the previous two-year period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.But with the economy improving, household spending in South Florida rose $2,250, or 6 percent, in the next two years, the federal agency found.Sales tax receipts increased 61 percent in Broward and 43 percent in Palm Beach County from January 2010 to January 2015.Many affluent people are shopping for wallpaper, flooring and other accessories for new condos that they've bought, said Alex Matamoros, director of design services for the Design Center of the Americas in Dania Beach. "We've seen a lot of people interested in wallpaper," he said.Fort Lauderdale real estate agent Howard Elfman, president-elect of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors, is encouraged that homeowners are putting money into their properties before listing them for sale.The economy is giving sellers confidence that they'll be rewarded with a higher price if they make an extra effort, Elfman said.Home prices in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties increased 8.3 percent in January from a year ago, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index. Only Denver, at 8.4 percent, had a larger gain among 20 major metro areas.In some cases, businesses have contributed to higher sales tax revenue, suggested interior designer Kate Healy of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Bankers Healthcare Group, for example, invested in brightly colored walls and new furniture when the financial services company moved last month into its new 26,000-square-foot headquarters in Davie.But Stronge says consumers are driving the improvement. "We have a lot more residential than commercial units," he said.


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Dated: April 5th 2015
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