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Homeowners Seen Scaling Back Remodeling Plans

CAMBRIDGE, MA — Expenditures for improvements and repairs to owner-occupied homes are expected to slow by the middle of next year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, according to the latest Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity released by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Assuming continued weakness in the economy due to the public-health crisis, the LIRA projects annual declines in renovation-and-repair spending of 0.4% by the second quarter of 2021.

“The remodeling market was buoyed through the early months of the pandemic as owners spent a considerable amount of time at home and realized the need to update or reconfigure indoor and outdoor spaces for work, school, play, exercise and more,” said Chris Herbert, managing director of the Cambridge, MA-based Joint Center. “However, sharp declines in home sales and project permitting activity this spring, as well as record unemployment, suggest many homeowners will likely scale back plans for major renovations this year and next.”

As the pace of do-it-yourself activity, maintenance work and exterior-focused projects begins to taper, annual expenditures by owners for home improvements and repairs are expected to shrink slightly, to $326 billion, by the middle of 2021, added Joint Center economist Abbe Will.

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