NAHB: Remodeler Sentiment Positive Despite COVID-19

Revamped data not comparable to previous quarters, but shows strength in all regions.

authors QR Staff   | July 20, 2020

The NAHB’s Remodeling Market Index posted a reading of 73 for the second quarter of 2020. This gauge of remodeler sentiment is very strong coming on a scale where any reading over 50 is considered positive.

“Many remodelers are busy, even busier than prior to COVID-19. Home owners are calling for decks, patios, porches, and kitchen and bathroom jobs,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Tom Ashley, Jr., CAPS, CGP, CGR, a remodeler from Denham Springs, La. “Their optimism for a stronger market is evident through their RMI responses.”

The RMI survey asks remodelers to rate five facets of the remodeling market as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” Each question is measured on a scale from 0 to 100, where an index number above 50 indicates that a higher share view conditions as good rather than poor.

In the second quarter, all components and subcomponents of the RMI were well above 50.

A reading of “Current Conditions” averaged 77, including:

  • large remodeling projects ($50,000 or more) yielding a reading of 70;
  • moderately-sized remodeling projects (at least $20,000 but less than $50,000) at 78; and
  • small remodeling projects (under $20,000) with a reading of 83.

A reading of “Future Indicators” averaged 70, including:

  • the rate at which leads and inquiries are coming in at 72; and
  • the backlog of remodeling jobs at 67.

In an effort to track quarterly trends, the redesigned RMI survey asks remodelers to compare market conditions to three months earlier, using a “better,” “about the same,” or “worse” scale. This index posted a reading of 66, indicating that market conditions have improved substantially since the first quarter.

“An RMI of 73 indicates positive remodeler sentiment, and a change index of 66 indicates that business has picked up since the previous quarter as home owners focus on the importance of home for work and life amidst the pandemic,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, rising material prices and ongoing skilled labor access represent ongoing supply-side challenges.”

This is the second quarter with a new RMI, redesigned to ease respondent burden and improve its ability to interpret and track industry trends. The new series is not seasonally adjusted, therefore index readings cannot be compared quarter to quarter.

The overall RMI is calculated by averaging the results of two components: the Current Conditions Index and the Future Indicator Index, each of which uses a similar scale from 0 to 100. The Current Conditions Index examines the current market for large remodeling projects, moderately-sized projects and small projects. The Future Indicators Index looks at the current rate at which leads and inquiries are coming in and the current backlog of remodeling projects.

All regions showing strength

Regional data from the RMI shows a broad base of positive sentiment. In the Northeast current market conditions were indexed at 77 and future indicators were pegged at 72 for a composite score of 75. In the Midwest, current conditions rated a 76 index while future conditions hit 73 for a composite reading of 75. In the South, current conditions were 76 and future indicators were lower at 70 for a composite of 73. Lastly, in the West, current conditions spiked to a 79 index in sharp contrast to its gauge of future indicators, a 66 for a composite score of 72

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