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New Real Estate Index Analyzes Building Permit Activity, Provides Source of National Remodeling Data

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RISMEDIA, January 19, 2011—For millions of Americans, the dreams of moving to a larger house, relocating to a different locale or building a new home may have been put on hold due to a variety of factors including the economy. Whether they were not able to sell their current property or could not secure a new mortgage because of tighter regulations, homeowners may seek to remodel their current properties to either provide the upgrades they seek or attract the buyer and price they want for their property.

To gauge national remodeling activity, BuildFax, a provider of building permit data, launched the BuildFax Residential Remodeling Index (BFRRI), a source that directly reports residential remodeling activity across the nation. The information is derived through related building permit activity filed with local building departments across the country.

According to the company, the BuildFax Residential Remodeling Index will report trends in remodeling activity for the entire United States, as well as for the four major regions of the country: Northeast, South, Midwest and West. Updates to the index will be released in the middle of each month, on the day preceding the Census’s release of new housing starts.

The initial report details remodeling activity through November 2010 and provides month-over-month and year-over-year comparisons for the entire nation and the four regions included in the index. The company reports that the data indicates that remodeling activity has returned to pre-recession levels, with seven straight months with an index value over 100, the first such streak since the second half of 2007. Combined with the depressed number of new housing starts, a significant increase in remodeling activity may indicate a more substantial shift toward reinvesting in existing homes over building new ones. In November 2010, The BuildFax Residential Remodeling Index rose 11% year-over-year—and for the thirteenth straight month.

“We at BuildFax know that looking at new construction only provides part of the full picture of home investment,” said Joe Emison, Vice President of Research and Development at BuildFax. “Because BuildFax has the only national database of historical building permit data, we believe we have a responsibility to share our knowledge of residential remodeling with the public.”

Residential remodeling activity was reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, but the Census discontinued that survey at the end of 2007. Other attempts have been made since then to estimate remodeling activity from other reported values, but there has been no reporting of direct remodeling data until now with BuildFax’s launch of the Residential Remodeling Index.

Each monthly BuildFax Residential Remodeling index release will report on a one-month delay (so in mid-January, the release will be for remodeling in November 2010), and will include month-over-month as well as year-over-year comparisons for the nation and each of the four regions. Historic index values (going back to early 2004) will be available for purchase from http://index.buildfax.com/.

On a regional basis, the South and the Northeast continue to lag behind the Midwest and West, with the Northeast still in a year-over-year decline, and while the South is up year-over-year, it suffered its fifth straight month of decline in November. The BuildFax Remodeling Index for the Northeast was down 1.7 points (2%) month-over-month and down 4.9 points (6%) year-over-year; the South was down 4.0 points (5%) month-over-month but up 6.5 points (8%) year-over-year; the Midwest was down 3.0 points (3%) month-over-month but up 3.9 points (4%) year-over-year; and the West was down 1.1 points (1%) month-over-month but up 4.6 points (5%) year-over-year.

For more information, visit www.buildfax.com.

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