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Economic Woes Freeze Remodeling Market

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RISMEDIA, February 9, 2009-The residential remodeling market declined further during the final quarter of 2008, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Remodeling Market Index (RMI). The current market conditions indicator slid to 27.7, from 33.5 in the previous quarter. Future expectations of remodeling work plummeted to 19.6, from 27.7 in the third quarter. Both these indices descended to historic lows since the start of the RMI in 2001.

The RMI measures remodeler perceptions of market demand for current and future residential remodeling projects. Any number over 50 indicates that the majority of remodelers view market conditions as improving. The RMI has been running below 50 since the final quarter of 2005, following decreasing remodeling expenditures since that time.

“During the last quarter many remodelers were asking if their phones were still working because they received virtually no calls for work,” said NAHB Remodelers Chairman Greg Miedema, CGR, CGB, CAPS, a remodeler from Tucson, Ariz. “The jobs we are getting are for smaller projects and necessary home maintenance.”

Nationally, market conditions for major additions and alterations shrank to 20.2 (from 29.4 in the third quarter), while minor additions and alterations conditions slowed to 33.5 (from 38.51). Maintenance and repair dropped to 27.6 from 30.9 in the previous quarter. Overall, major additions and other large remodeling jobs have experienced a greater decline than smaller remodels and maintenance.

“Remodelers suggest that the huge decline in consumer confidence, volatility of the stock market, and uncertainty about the future of the economy have made homeowners delay remodeling decisions,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “These anxieties are causing consumers to wait and see if conditions improve before they are willing to commit to home improvement spending.”

All measures for future expectations in the remodeling market (calls for bids, amount of work committed for next three months, backlog of remodeling jobs, and appointments for proposals) dropped. Current market expectations slipped in all regions during the fourth quarter, with the Northeast declining to 24.9 (from 32.9 in the third quarter), the South 30.7 (from 31.5), the Midwest to 28.0 (from 36.2), and the West to 25.0 (from 36.1).

For more information about remodeling, visit www.nahb.org/remodel.

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