With home sales picking up and contractors seeing more positive business conditions in the future, remodeling activity in the U.S. is in a position to see accelerated growth by the end of this year and into 2013, 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 that annual homeowner improvement spending may reach double-digit growth by the first quarter of 2013. View graphics.
“Warm weather in the first quarter temporarily bumped up remodeling activity in many areas,” says Eric S. Belsky, managing director of the Joint Center. “By the end of the year, however, positive market fundamentals are expected to kick in, moving the industry out of this ebb and flow period and into a new growth phase.”
“Home improvement activity has been bouncing around the bottom of this cycle for almost three years now, waiting for the industry to get some traction,” says Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center. “Now, the combination of low financing costs, stronger consumer confidence, improving home sales, and the perception that home prices have stabilized in most markets across the country are encouraging owners to start working on the list of home improvement projects they have been putting off. ”
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 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 Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies advances understanding of housing issues and informs policy. Through its research, education, and public outreach programs, the center helps leaders in government, business, and the civic sectors make decisions that effectively address the needs of cities and communities. Through graduate and executive courses, as well as fellowships and internship opportunities, the Joint Center also trains and inspires the next generation of housing leaders. For more information, please visit www.jchs.harvard.edu.