Banks Turn the Home Equity Spigot Back On

Rising property values spark a return to lavish renovations

A year ago, New Jersey contractor Michael Mroz’s customers were focused on saving money when renovating kitchens and baths. Now, with a resurgence in home equity lending, they’re ready to pay for the best. “People don’t want granite countertops—they want marble costing at least 25 percent more,” says Mroz, owner of Michael Robert Construction in Westfield, N.J., an affluent town less than an hour from Manhattan. “Money is so cheap today, people can splurge on $1,000 faucets.”

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