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Study: Home Remodeling To Remain Weak Through First Half

10/20/2011 02:05:26 PM Eastern

Cambridge, Mass. -- Home remodeling activity will remain weak through the first half of 2012, creating a challenge for
electronic systems contractors who have refocused on the retrofit and
remodeling business, a Harvard University study found.

Harvard's
Joint
Center for Housing Studies forecasts
a
modest decline in annual homeowner improvement spending in the fourth quarter
of 2011 and first half of 2012 (see table).

 "After pulling through the worst of the
downturn in home improvement spending, we appear to be entering another period
of softening," said Eric S. Belsky, the
center's managing
director. "Absent a more
sustained upturn in the broader housing market, particularly in the sales of
existing homes, there's not much to propel growth in home improvement
spending," added Kermit Baker,
director of the center's
Remodeling
Futures Program.  "Homeowners are continuing to undertake
smaller jobs, but are still nervous about larger discretionary projects."

chart

The
center estimated national homeowner spending on improvements for the third quarter
of 2011 and subsequent three quarters. In devising a four-quarter
moving total of consumer remodeling expenditures, the center said the
four-quarter moving total in the fourth quarter of 2011 will fall to $111
billion, down from a third-quarter figure of $116.8 billion. At $111
billion, the fourth-quarter figure would be one of the lowest moving totals
accumulated by te center during the past 14 quarters beginning in 2008's third
quarter. The center expects the figure to  fall again in the first quarter of 2012 to
$105.8 billion and move back up in the second quarter to $110.1, still among
the lowest figures since 2008's third quarter.