CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Joint Center for Housing Studies) – A stalled housing recovery and concern over the pace of economic growth nationally will likely generate only modest gains in home improvement spending this year, predicts a Harvard-based housing research center.

“Given all the economic uncertainty that we’re seeing nationally, the home improvement recovery is expected to be rocky,” said Eric S. Belsky, managing director of the university’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. “Spending patterns through the remainder of the year are expected to reflect recent volatility in the housing market.”

Said Kermit Baker, director of the center’s Remodeling Futures Program, “Recent softness in the housing market and continued pessimism among remodeling contractors point to a slowdown in the remodeling market toward the end of the year.”

The center’s Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) projects annual growth slowing throughout the year, with spending up only 0.2 percent in 2011.

The LIRA is designed to estimate national homeowner spending on improvements for the current quarter and subsequent three quarters. It provides a short-term outlook of homeowner remodeling activity and is intended to help identify future turning points in the business cycle of the home improvement industry.