June’s 3 hot topics for home-improvement brands

We find bargains in the Midwest, crafty moves in the big boxes, and an “ugly” debate on HGTV.
by The Drill Down Team on July 03, 2024

5 Midwest cities where you can buy luxury homes for $100,000 or less

While housing prices continue to rise beyond the reach of some families in the United States, there are bright spots across the country. In fact, there are many places where you can find luxury homes for $100,000 or less.

One good spot to look for these luxury houses is in the Midwest. Not only is this area of the country generally known for its safety and polite people – housing markets in various cities across the Midwest remain affordable for families.

Here’s a look at five Midwest cities where you could find a luxury home for $100,000 or less.
More here: (Source)

The S/M Take: 

Hmmm. Color us skeptical. Oh, it’s not that these very nice Midwest cities don’t offer lovely homes that barely crack six figures, it’s that the definition of “luxury” seems to be interpreted rather broadly. At one end of the scale, luxury might mean good bones and years of DIY sweat to achieve the dream. And at the other end? In-house yoga studios, garden offices, and infinity pools. Indulge here, then drop The Drill Down a note and tell us where you land on the definition of luxury. We’ll feature your response next month.

Two anthropomorphic robots, one blue with the "Lowe's" logo and the other orange with the "Home Depot" logo, stand face-to-face in a warehouse aisle, poised to arm wrestle. Brands well-known for home improvement clash amidst shelves filled with various items in the background.

How Home Depot & Lowe’s plan to navigate DIY drop-off

At their most recent earnings, both Home Depot and Lowe’s reported drops in year-over-year sales as shoppers pulled back on home improvement spending. In turn, the home improvement chains are looking to drive business with professional contractors and find new ways to cater to online customers to ride out a challenging macroeconomic environment.

Lowe’s recently reported its first-quarter sales of $21.4 billion, down 4.1% from the same time last year. Still, it beat expectations and is forecasting the year’s sales will be about 2% to 3% less than 2023. It’s a similar story at Home Depot, which recently reported sales of $36.4 billion, representing a drop of 2.3% year over year.

Both chains saw decreases in foot traffic, and are pointing to softness in the market for larger-ticket purchases. DIY spending is down following a pull-forward of renovations that occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic. And high interest rates are keeping home sales slow, which impacts renovations and repair spending. More here: (Source)

The S/M Take: 

The big boxes are marketing juggernauts, utterly unafraid to shift their marketing focus between DIY and pros, mount retail media networks, and embrace martech in all its emerging forms. Frankly, they may represent the most progressive retail environment in the U.S.

As proof, check out these fresh new innovations: 

  • The Home Depot has teamed with InstaCart to provide delivery in as little as an hour from nearly 2,000 stores. What was once the getter of groceries will now bring your furnace filters, pronto.
  • Meanwhile, Lowe’s has partnered with Nvidia to drive Ai into the sourcing and inventory process, and is working with Apple’s Vision Pro headsets to help customers visualize their projects.
A person wearing a dark hat and coat stands before a glowing, enchanted paint can labeled "Pro Grade Paint." Swirling luminous tendrils rise from the can, and golden flames surround it, illuminating the dark room with a mystical light—a scene straight out of the best home-improvement brands' magical topics.

HGTV's Ugliest House In America divides viewers with a controversial paint choice

People love to see incredible before and after reveals of exterior remodel transformations, so HGTV's fan-favorite "Ugliest House in America" wrapped up its Season 5 finale by giving the home selected as the season's ugliest a $150,000 makeover by designer Alison Victoria. 

The winner was a 1940s cinder block home in St. Cloud, Minnesota, lovingly nicknamed the "technicolor prison." When the Season 5, Episode 6 makeover was revealed, viewers almost unanimously agreed that the house was only chosen for the finale because it was the one most easily renovated within the designated budget, rather than actually the "ugliest." 

But this is where viewers stopped seeing eye-to-eye, as the actual exterior paint colors chosen for the transformation left them firmly in two different camps. More here: (Source)

The S/M Take: 

The Drill Down agrees with John Mellencamp that little pink houses are for you and me, but apparently mint is for no one.

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