Americans are beginning to spend more on such vanity home improvement projects as backyard decks and spa-like bathrooms. The latest Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies research shows that the amount people invest in home remodeling and repair during 2015 is on track to reach $325 billion — a level that has not been seen in eight years. The Hanley Wood marketing services firm offers a similar forecast, predicting the industry will show full recovery this summer after a dozen consecutive quarters of growth. The two main reasons for the recent surge in home improvement are rising sales of previously owned homes and rising prices. Abbe Will, an analyst at Harvard’s Joint Center, calculates that resales increased 3.2 percent in June to the highest pace since February 2007. Meanwhile, the most recent Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller national home-price index shows values have climbed 28.4 percent since February 2012. Will remarks, “Previous research has shown that a lot of remodeling happens around the time of sale, either before the sale or within a couple years after the sale.” She adds that the country’s remodeling hot spots tend to be areas where home prices stayed fairly stable throughout the downturn. In addition, they are places where the local economy is improving at a healthy rate — specifically, the major metropolitan areas on the East and West Coasts. While much of the remodeling activity to date has focused on such necessary projects as new roofing or siding, industry professionals are starting to see a shift with kitchens ranking as the top growth category. | Read More