Harvard: Remodeling expected to accelerate into 2011

July 15, 2010 – CAMBRIDGE, MA - A recovery in home improvement spending will soon be underway 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. Remodeling spending is expected to increase on an annual basis by the end of the year, and the LIRA points to growth accelerating to the double-digit range in the first quarter of 2011.

“Absent a reversal of recent economic progress, there should be a healthy upturn in home improvement activity by year-end and into next year,” says Eric S. Belsky, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Homeowner optimism is bolstering a trend toward investing in the home again. “The recovery in home improvement activity appears to be moving beyond simple replacement projects and energy retrofits to broader remodels and upgrades,” says Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “A wider activity base would help generate the expected growth in the quarters ahead.”

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 October 21, 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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