Recent reports from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University have offered some good news for the housing and remodeling industries. And while we’ve gotten quite used to sustaining our businesses somehow in spite of the persistent stalls in these areas, we welcome these developments with the embrace of a long-lost relative reunited Oprah-style.
The annual State of the Nation’s Housing report indicated that existing home sales were up 5.2 percent over last year by the first quarter of 2012. And single-family sales were up 6.3 percent. Also noteworthy: home construction and improvement spending have made a positive contribution to GDP in four out of five quarters since the beginning of 2011.
“In terms of the broad housing market, we think it is starting a true recovery,” says Chris Herbert, the Center’s Director of Research. “There have been a few times where it seemed like it was picking up only to fall back down, but what’s different this time is we’re seeing more organic growth rather than stimulus-driving growth that later goes away.”
The Center also released its Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity report, which forecasts the United States to be in a position
to see accelerated growth by the end of this year and into 2013. Annual homeowner improvement spending may even reach double-digit growth by the first quarter of next year.
According to Kermit Baker, Director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Center, the combination of low financing costs, stronger consumer confidence, improving home sales and the stabilization of home prices in most markets nationwide are encouraging homeowners to start working on the home improvement projects that they had been putting off.
Remodelers themselves report positive gains in the National Assn. of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Second Quarterly Business Review. NARI members forecast sales growth based on three key factors: postponement of projects, low interest rates and improving home prices.
“Many homeowners have made the decision to stay in their home and are choosing to make improvements and increase their comfort and long-term living accommodations,” says NARI National Secretary Kevin Anundson. “This thought process allows them to be much less concerned about returns on investment and resale values.”
With things starting to open up for both housing and remodeling, now is the time to make some noise about lighting’s importance to the enjoyment of the home environment.