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Bright forecast for 2013 remodeling

BY Brae Canlen

U.S. homeowners, feeling positive about their financial future, are spending more on remodeling projects, according to a report by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). The trade group’s fourth-quarter Remodeling Business Pulse, which measures current and future remodeling business conditions, has experienced significant growth across all indicators, with forecasting in the next three months hitting its all-time highest level.

The forecast data come from surveys with NARI members, who work as full-time remodelers. 

“Remodelers are indicating major growth in the future, with many saying that clients are feeling more stable in their financial future and their employment situations; therefore, they are spending more freely on remodeling needs,” said Tom O’Grady, chairman of NARI’s strategic planning & research committee and president of O’Grady Builders, based in Drexel Hill, Pa.

Growth indicators in the last quarter of 2012 are as follows:

  • Current business conditions are up 2.1% since last quarter;
  • Number of inquiries is up 3.9% since last quarter;
  • Requests for bids are up 3.7% since last quarter;
  • Conversion of bids to jobs is up 3.5% since last quarter; and
  • Value of jobs sold is up 4.3% since last quarter.

Throughout 2012, the Remodeling Business Pulse produced less statistically significant increases and decreases; however, the fourth-quarter data show movement in highly important business areas, such as conversion rates and value of jobs.

Although they provide positive marks, NARI members indicated that many consumers are spending on remodeling out of necessity.

As one NARI member put it: “Homeowners are still concerned about spending money but will do so because they cannot postpone any longer. They are spending more conservatively than they did prior to the crash.”

Still, according to the data, expectations for 2013 are even brighter. Two-thirds of remodelers forecasted the next three months positively, and the rating jumped 13.1% from last quarter.

Drivers of this positive outlook continue to be postponement of projects (81%) and the improvement of home prices (51%). 

Of the small segment predicting declines, 91% cited uncertainty of the future with commentary focused largely on tax increases and leadership issues in Washington.

“Now that the election is over, consumer confidence is starting to grow and so has remodelers’ confidence,” O’Grady said. “NARI members are looking forward to having a well-deserved, productive year ahead.”

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List of improving housing markets expands

BY HBSDealer Staff

The number of metropolitan areas on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) rose for a fifth consecutive month to 242 in January. This is up from 201 markets in December, and includes entrants from 48 states and the District of Columbia.  

The IMI identifies metro areas that have improved from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. A total of 47 new metros were added to the list, and six were dropped this month. Newly added metros include such locations as Los Angeles; Auburn, Ala.; Des Moines, Iowa; Nashville, Tenn.; Richmond, Va.; and Cleveland.

“We created the improving markets list in September of 2011 to spotlight individual metros where — contrary to the national headlines — housing markets were on the mend,” said NAHB chairman Barry Rutenberg, a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. “Today, 242 out of 361 metros nationwide appear on that list, including representatives from almost every state in the country. The story is no longer about exceptions to the rule, but about the growing breadth of the housing recovery even as overly strict mortgage requirements hold back the pace of improvement.” 

“The IMI has almost doubled in the past two months as stronger demand during prime home buying season boosted prices across a broader number of metropolitan areas,” said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. “Similar home price gains, and hence the IMI, may be tempered in the future as we see data from typically slower months for home sales.”   

A complete list of all 242 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI is available at nahb.org/imi

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Will Porter joins BlueTarp Financial as new CFO

BY Ken Clark

Portland, Maine-based BlueTarp Financial named Will Porter as its new chief financial officer.

Porter brings more than 18 years of experience working with both public and private companies. Most recently, he served as the CFO at Signiant, a global software provider focusing on the transferring of digital files. Previously, Porter was the VP finance at Phase Forward, a data management solutions provider. 

“Will has a successful track record of working with companies in high-growth environments,” said Scott Simpson, CEO of BlueTarp. “His financial, accounting and operational experiences will be invaluable for BlueTarp as we continue to increase our presence across the United States.” 

The Boston-area native is a graduate of the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He currently resides in Walpole, Mass.

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