The latest release of the Leading Indicator for Remodeling Activity has even the most optimistic industry observers down on the market's chances to bounce back soon.

The LIRA, published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University (JCHS), forecasts the size of the remodeling market four quarters out. The most recent data points to a 4.8% decrease in home improvement activity over the course of 2008.

Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies

In previous LIRA releases, JCHS officials had tended toward the conservative when it came to commenting on the immediate future. They minced no words this time around, however, a bad sign for those who had hoped for a quick rebound. “It looks unlikely that we will see any improvement in the remodeling market until 2009,” Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures program at JCHS, said in a press release. “Currently, the second half of this year is shaping up to be weaker than the first half.”

Nicolas P. Retsinas, director of JCHS, had a similarly bleak outlook. “Spending on home improvements continues to be sluggish,” he said, adding, “The fall-off in pending home sales suggests a long and slow recovery.

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Percentage of U.S. consumers who say that they use energy-efficient light bulbs; recycle paper; and turn down their thermostats, respectively, to “improve the environment”
Source: BuzzBack Market Research

April 11 reading of the RBC Consumer Attitudes and Spending by Household Index, the lowest since its 2002 inception
Source: RBC

Median annual compensation (base salary plus bonus) for a senior construction laborer
Median annual compensation (base salary plus bonus) for a lead carpenter or equivalent
Source: magazine