Jonathan Sweet is the editor in chief of Professional Remodeler, an award-winning trade publication for remodelers and home improvement contractors. He started his career covering homes and small businesses at a daily newspaper and has spent more than a decade writing for several construction trade publications including Qualified Remodeler, Construction Pro and Concrete Contractor+Jonathan Sweet

One of the big barriers to a housing industry recovery is the perception that there are a large number of vacant homes out there that are going to flood the market any day now.

That perception may be wrong, though, according to respected housing economist Tom Lawler. Lawler analyzed some of the preliminary data being released from the 2010 Census and says the numbers don't jive with those the Census Bureau was releasing for 2009 vacancy estimates.

A preview of our February issue:

Our cover story this month focuses on the opportunities being afforded by social media and the Web in general.
And although many remodelers aren’t buying into the social media movement, there’s ample reason you should be. (Our most recent survey on social media, published in the September 2010 issue, showed only 51 percent of remodelers ever visit social media sites, let alone use them for business.)

It's not getting a lot of attention in the partisan bickering over the tax compromise in Washington last week, but remodelers hoping for an extension of the energy efficiency tax credits look to be the big losers.

The credits (for windows, insulation, etc.) set to expire at the end of this year are being extended -- but at the much lower pre-2009 levels of 10 percent of project cost, capped at $500. Credits for window replacement are capped at $200.

Another survey, another sign that consumers still are not sold on a housing recovery.

The latest came out today from Trulia and RealtyTrac, which found that 58 percent of Americans think the housing market will not recover for at least two years. Nearly a quarter won't recover until 2015 or later. About 15 percent think the market already has recovered or will next year.

Remodelers are more optimistic than they've been about the remodeling market since 2005 according to our latest survey.

For our upcoming issue, we surveyed our readers on their outlook for next year and 64 percent said they expect business to increase in 2011, and only 15 percent expect it to decrease. We haven't seen numbers that good since the height of the housing boom.

I had the chance today to spend some time talking with Manfred Seitz, chairman, president and CEO of Bosch Power Tools, during a visit to the company's U.S. headquarters.

We talked about several topics, including the company's outlook for the housing market. He said the company is being very cautious, projecting small growth for 2011 in new construction and remodeling, and slightly better growth for 2012.

The residential market's "shadow inventory" is up more than 10 percent from a year ago, according to real-estate research firm CoreLogic.

That puts overall inventory at more than 6.3 million unsold homes on the market, nearly a third of which are "pending supply" -- those homes that are seriously delinquent, in foreclosure or being held off the market by banks or other investors.

Standard & Poor is predicting more home price pain for 2011.

Analysts from the financial market intelligence firm are calling for a drop of between 7 and 10 percent through the end of next year.

HousingWire has more on the story:

I know from personal experience buying a home a few years ago, it was nearly impossible in 2006 to find a builder that would build something less than 3,000 sq. ft. with any sort of quality.

Well, things have changed and people are finally starting to pay attention to what people like Sarah Susanka have been saying for years. She continues to gain popularity as people realize her ideas make a lot of sense, especially in this market.

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