BuildFax Launches "Residential Remodeling Index"

Last Updated Apr 26, 2011 4:58 PM EDT

Since 2007 - when the U.S. Census Bureau stopped monitoring residential remodeling projects -consumers have had a hard-to-impossible time finding reliable data about remodeling. Especially now, as more homeowners are choosing to remodel their homes rather than buy new ones, it's become clear that the remodeling industry needs some sort of market gauge.


Enter BuildFax.

The company, which bills itself as a data center for housing permits and codes that are able to tell a property's "life story," released the BuildFax Residential Remodeling Index (BFRRI) yesterday.

The report aims to highlight any nationwide trends in the remodeling industry, as well as providing data for specific regions.

The company measures how many construction permits are requested and actually granted. The index has an initial value of 100 (set in April 2004) and is not seasonally adjusted.

BuildFax says it is the only company that is directly reporting remodeling information nationwide. Joe Emison, BuildFax's Vice President of Research and Development, says the BFRRI came from a sense of responsibility to homeowners:

"We know that looking at new construction only provides part of the picture of home investment; 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," Emison said in a press release

So what exactly does the new BFRRI say about 2010?

The index for the country rose 11 percent from 2009, which makes this the thirteenth month that the index has risen. There are, however, distinct regional differences. The Midwest and the West are leading the nation in remodels, whereas the Northeast continues to fall (nearly 5 points year-over-year).

Another stark difference is the discrepancy between the month-to-month and the year-over-year measures. It seems that everyone had a rough November 2010: the Northeast was down 1.7 points; the South was down 4 points; the Midwest was down 3 points; and the West was down 1.1 points. While this may be a bit discouraging, it is important to remember that the year-over-year data showed improvement in every market except the Northeast.

The data for December will be available in the middle of next month (the BFRRI works on a one-month lag).

If you were to remodel your home, would you reference the BFRRI before you decide? What information would be helpful to homeowners considering a remodel?
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Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.com and The Equifax Personal Finance Blog, and is Chief Content Strategist at RealtyJoin.com, a community for real estate investors.
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    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling book author and founder of Best Money Moves, an employee benefit program that helps reduce financial stress. She also owns ThinkGlink.com, where readers can find real estate and personal finance resources.