Healthy rebound for remodeling expected in 2010

April 15, 2010 – CAMBRIDGE, MA – Home improvement spending will recover this year, according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) released today by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA suggests annual spending will accelerate, with nearly five percent growth in 2010.

“The gradual recovery in the broader economy should encourage more remodeling spending by homeowners,” says Nicolas P. Retsinas, director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “This year could produce the first annual spending increase for the industry since 2006.”

Favorable market conditions support the projected increase in remodeling activity. “With house prices showing modest gains in most markets and the employment outlook beginning to stabilize, owners are likely to refocus attention on home improvements,” says Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “Home sales are trending up, which shows growing confidence in the housing market.”

The Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) is designed to estimate national homeowner spending on improvements for the current quarter and subsequent three quarters. The indicator, measured as an annual rate-of-change of its components, provides a short-term outlook of homeowner remodeling activity and is intended to help identify future turning points in the business cycle of the home improvement industry. The development of the LIRA is detailed in “Developing a Leading Indicator for the Remodeling Industry” (JCHS Research Note N07-1). In July 2008, the LIRA was re-benchmarked due to changes in the underlying reference series. These changes are explained in “Addendum to Research Note N07-1: Re-Benchmarking the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity” (JCHS Research Note N08-1). The LIRA is released by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University in the third week after each quarter’s closing. The next LIRA release date is July 15, 2010.

The Remodeling Futures Program, initiated by the Joint Center for Housing Studies in 1995, is a comprehensive study of the factors influencing the growth and changing characteristics of housing renovation and repair activity in the United States. The Program seeks to produce a better understanding of the home improvement industry and its relationship to the broader residential construction industry.

The Joint Center for Housing Studies is Harvard University’s center for information and research on housing in the United States. Established in 1959, it is a collaborative unit affiliated with the Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Kennedy School. The Joint Center analyzes the dynamic relationships between housing markets and economic, demographic, and social trends, providing leaders in government, business, and the non-profit sector with the knowledge needed to develop effective policies and strategies. For more information, please visit jchs.harvard.edu.

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