CAMBRIDGE, MA — The declines in owner spending on home improvements will moderate through the end of 2009 and first half of 2010 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 indicator suggests the remodeling industry is turning a corner. Annual spending levels should start to rise in the beginning of next year, causing year-over-year declines to shrink to 8.9% by the second quarter of 2010.

“Remodeling spending by homeowners shows early signs of stabilization,” said Nicolas P. Retsinas, director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “While the housing recovery has been erratic, a strengthening economy could produce spending increases on home improvement projects by the second quarter of next year.”

Some positive signs for the industry are emerging. “Favorable financing costs — for those households with access to credit — and a pickup in homes sales are producing more opportunities for home improvement projects,” said Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies. Several factors, however, still impede remodeling growth. “A generally weak housing market with unstable prices, near record levels of foreclosures and other distressed sales are discouraging households from undertaking nonessential remodeling projects.”

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