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CEA: Installed A/V Holding Up Better Than Other Home Tech

Arlington, Va. – For home builders, the installation business for multiroom audio and home theaters held up relatively better than other home technologies in 2008 despite the housing market crash and the recession, according to CEA’s seventh annual builder technology study.

In surveying home builders in November 2008, the study found that the percentage of builders offering multiroom audio and installed home theaters grew in 2008 even as the percentage of builders installing other types of home technologies fell in all categories but structured wiring. (See tables below.)

The survey also found that the percentage of new homes built with installed home theaters grew in 2008 to a record high, and the installation rate of multiroom audio and lighting controls remained flat, even as the install rates of other home technologies fell. (See tables below.)

“Builders are finding more selling points in entertainment-related technology features, which corresponds with the growing consumer trend to stay at home in light of the economy,” CEA said.

The study also found that 71 percent of builders said technology helped them preserve home renovation revenues that might otherwise have fallen this year. That percentage is up from 61 percent in the year-ago survey.
As for technologies offered, CEA found that the percentage of builders offering installed home theaters as a standard or optional feature ticked up to 74 percent from 2007’s 73 percent and was well up from 2004’s 59 percent. The percentage offering multiroom audio grew to 69 percent from 67 percent and was well up from 2004’s 68 percent.

As for the rate at which builders actually install the system, CEA found the home theater install rate spiked to 18 percent from the year-ago 10 percent, with the install rate of multiroom audio remaining flat at 15 percent. To quantify the install rate, CEA asked builders what percentage of their new homes were sold with select home technologies. The reported percentages are an average of their individual responses.

The install rates of home theater and multiroom audio are up from five years ago, when home theater install rates were only 8 percent and multiroom audio’s install rate was 12 percent. Multiroom audio’s install rate is nonetheless down slightly from its 16 percent peak in 2006.
The install rates of lighting-control systems and home automation systems were flat at 5 percent each in 2008, and structured-wiring install rates fell to 46 percent from 51 percent to put them well off their 2004 peak of 61 percent. The install rates of all other technologies fell in 2008 except for central vacuum systems, whose install rate rose to 14 percent from 11 percent.

Tracking the falling economy, pinched consumers began to scale back the amount of money they spent on select home technologies in 2008, the survey found. Among nine categories of installed systems, average pricing fell or remained the same in six.

The typical price of a multiroom audio system rose to $2,900 from $2,400 in the 2007 survey and from $1,300 in the 2004 survey. Typical home theater prices fell in 2008 to $3,200 from 2007’s $5,100. Lighting control prices slipped to $4,300 from $4,600 in 2007 and from $5,500 in 2004.