Remodeling Magazine
January 2012

Top 100 Markets of 2012
Our second annual forecast of the 100 U.S. markets that will be most active in 2012 is based, as was the inaugural list, on the Residential Remodeling Index, or RRI.

The good news: more than three-quarters of the cities on the list are over 80% of the way back to their 2007 levels of remodeling activity. The bad news: regardless of location, the forecast is for slow growth through most of 2012.

If your city is on the list, you're probably doing better than most. But even if it's not listed, it helps to remember that all remodeling is locaL and that certain neighborhoods are likely to perform better than others in any given market.

Our profiles of the 20 best-performing markets provide some insight into the factors

that are influencing the depth, breadth, and speed of the recovery.

New Normal
Residents are ready to spend, but are doing so with caution or are breaking projects into phases.

Denver proper - not including the mountain towns and second-home markets has seen a winnowing process among remodelers, contractors, and architects. "But in the past year we've seen an increase in remodeling activity:' says Michael Griggs whose Certified Restoration Consulting Group works with remodelers and restoration

companies.  Cress Carter, owner of Old Greenwich Builders, a high-end general contracting company, says his clients
and vendors who have been sitting on the sidelines "no longer want to wait." Carter's business - mostly custom home building - has hardly seen a dip and doubled its volume in 2011. This may be an anomaly, but Dave Gartland, a partner at BOA Construction, says, "We've built more custom houses in a short period of time than we have in the previous 20 years." BOA's remodeling work "remains clustered at each end of the spectrum: small interior

remodels - as much as they can for as little as they can spend - and some big whole-house jobs."  Though the housing market is depressed, and overbuilding has left some developments half empty, Carter says that his high-end clientele are building knowing they're underwater on day one post-project: "People are going for long-term investments and plan to live in their homes for the next
20 to 30 years."