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Home improvement spending slows

Nearly $125 billion spent on remodeling, repairs

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Research by Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies showed sluggish gains in the amount of money homeowners are spending on home improvements and repairs. Homeowners spent an estimated $125 billion on improvements and repairs over the past four quarters, which represents a 2.5 percent increase during that time, the center reported.   Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program of the Joint Center, said, "remodeling by homeowners hit a soft spot toward the end of 2003 that seems to be continuing into early 2004. This lull probably reflects the transition from remodeling activity generated by falling mortgage rates to activity generated by rising employment levels and growing incomes."   Nicolas P. Retsinas, center director, said that "high levels of renovation expenditures are likely to be sustained" if existing home sales remain strong. The center first released its Remodeling Activity Indicator in 1998, and the methodology of the ind...