Remodeling market shows signs of recovery

WASHINGTON, May 14 -- The residential remodeling market showed signs of improvement during the first quarter of 2009 with significant growth in all indicators, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders' Remodeling Market Index (RMI). The current market conditions measure rose to 34.5 from 25.5 in the fourth quarter of 2008. Future expectations jumped to 30 from a historic low of 18.6 the previous quarter.

The RMI measures remodeler perceptions of market demand for current and future residential remodeling projects. Any number over 50 indicates that the majority of remodelers view market conditions as improving. The RMI has been running below 50 since the final quarter of 2005, following decreasing remodeling expenditures since that time.

"Remodelers are starting to receive more calls for bids and requests for proposals, although getting customers to sign for a job continues to remain a challenge," said NAHB Remodelers Chairman Greg Miedema, CGR, CGB, CAPS, CGP, a remodeler from Tucson, Ariz. "While the size of the jobs is smaller, remodelers are optimistic about this uptick in market activity."

The index component for national market conditions for major additions and alterations increased to 32.7 from 19.4 in the fourth quarter of 2008, while minor additions improved to 39.1 from 31.5. Maintenance and repair remained also climbed, to 30.4 from 23.6.

Measures for future expectations showed healthy growth during the first quarter, with the component for calls for bids rising to 34.2 from 20.6. The backlog of remodeling jobs component climbed to 28.5 from 18.4, and appointments for proposals jumped to 35.3 from 19.1. Finally, the component that measures the amount of work committed for the next three months rose to 21.8 from 16.4.

"Remodelers say things are looking up from the doldrums of the fourth quarter," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "While conditions remain below average and are down slightly from this time last year, the gains over the last quarter, and improvement in market expectations suggest a spark to the start of recovery in the remodeling market."

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