CAMBRIDGE, MA - All signs point to a strong rebound for home improvement activity in 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. Robust spending in the second half of 2012 suggests the remodeling recovery is already underway, and the LIRA projects annual homeowner improvement spending will see accelerating double-digit growth through the third quarter of 2013. This news comes just ahead of the release of the Joint Center’s biennial remodeling report, The U.S. Housing Stock: Ready for Renewal, scheduled for release next Wednesday, Jan. 23.

“It’s encouraging to see the residential sector finally contribute to growth in our economy,” says Eric S. Belsky, managing director of the Joint Center. “Through the first three quarters of 2012, investment in the residential sector was responsible for one out of every six dollars added to our GDP. Moving forward, home improvement spending is expected to make an even larger contribution to GDP growth.”

“There are many external economic and political risks that could derail this remodeling recovery,” says Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center. “However, the solid momentum behind home building activity, existing home sales, low financing costs, and remodeling contractor sentiment all point to a solid start to the new year for home improvement spending.”

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 April 18, 2013.

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 JCHS.harvard.edu.

Source: Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies

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