Good news seems to be coming to the kitchen and bath industry – it’s been a scary few years, but we now have slightly higher expectations.  Many kitchen and bath professionals we’ve spoken with recently are getting busier with brighter outlooks than possible in recent past years.  December, January and February have been better for them, and if this trend continues, summer may be key for your business.

Of course circumstances vary for different markets, but according to some remodeling sources, the silver lining may be more visible for the first time in a long time.  Don’t get me wrong, things won’t be perfect right away – this takes time as well as defined guidelines and never-ending dedication.  But if conditions are truly somewhat improving, kitchen buyers who plan to remodel this year would most likely be gearing up to start right around the same time the kiddies start singing, “schoooools out for summer.”

No one quite knows for sure whether 2012 will be the year that gets us back on our feet, and as Yale University economist, Robert Shiller put it, the market “might be on the verge of recovery” but “might not.”  We can predict until we’re blue in the face, but there is some talk of a potential up-tick in home remodeling as well as home sales.

New and existing home sales

The majority of the housing and remodeling graphs and data we’ve come across show a leveling off or slight rise in numbers recently, and although not solid proof, it’s something.  Take the below “New and Existing Home Sales” graph we found showing data from 1994-January 2012.  Although the numbers are still tough to swallow when compared to the2005 data, both new and existing show a slight uplifted trend throughout the end of 2011 into 2012.

Opportunities knocking kitchen and bath

Here is another graph we pulled from the Economic Research St. Louis Federal Reserve website, showing similar data for new one family houses sold.  Take note of the shaded US recession areas…

Opportunities knocking kb

And another one for existing home sales from Calculated Risk Finance and Economics:

Opportunities knocking kb

According to the National Association of Home Builders, “Existing home sales climbed 5% in December while inventories dropped more than 9% to a 6.2 months-supply, down from 7.2 in November, which should help reduce downward pressure on home prices and increase confidence in the housing sector.”

So, these numbers may not be through the roof, but they’re unarguably better looking than recent past.

The National Association of Realtors noted that even “pending home sales are on an upward trend, which has been uneven but meaningful since reaching a cyclical low last April, and are well above a year ago.”  NAR Chief economist, Lawrence Yun said, “Movements in the index have been uneven, reflecting the headwinds of tight credit, but job gains, high affordability and rising rents are hopefully pushing the market into what appears to be a sustained housing recovery.

Of course new home sales, existing home sales and pending home sales aren’t the only numbers we care to see rise, so stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll take a look at residential remodeling numbers, and more.