The Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA), published quarterly by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS), was re-benchmarked in late April after the Census Bureau discontinued its Residential Survey of Improvements and Repairs Statistics, or C-50 survey. The LIRA now only projects trends in homeowner improvement spending; it no longer projects improvements and maintenance and repair spending.
Using data from the Census’ C-30 survey (Value of Private Residential Construction Put in Place), the re-benchmarked LIRA produces similar estimates of annual growth, but substantially larger year-over-year declines (see below). This is because the C-30 is a more cyclical data series than the C-50. These smoother estimates are more closely aligned with actual changes in home improvement activity levels. The re-benchmarked LIRA also includes a few new “inputs,” most notably housing starts and 30-year-bond yields.
The re-benchmarked LIRA estimates similar growth, but shows more pronounced declines. This graph shows the four-quarter moving rate of change in annual homeowner remodeling expenditures.
Credit: Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies