Home Improvement Plans Increase; 50% More Americans Expect to Move

15% of Americans expect to move in 2013Whether staying or moving, Americans are planning to upgrade their homes, according to an Echo Research survey. Approximately 35 million people expect to move in 2013, a 50% increase from last year. Of these, 43% plan to purchase a new home, condo or apartment, while 47% will rent. Moving or not, the vast majority (72%) of homeowners have at least one home improvement project on their to-do list this year, expecting to spend an average of $4,000.

American-Express-Logo.jpgEcho Research surveyed 1,518 U.S. adults (including residents of Alaska and Hawaii) on behalf of American Express. The online survey was fielded from February 27 to March 1, 2013. The survey results were weighted by household income, gender, age, and geographic region. The sample included 1,000 general consumers and 500 from affluent households (with incomes of $100,000 or more). If this had been a probability sample, the margin of error would be ± 2.5 percentage points (for total respondents), ± 3.0 percentage points (for homeowners) and ± 4.1 percentage points (for affluent Americans) at the 95% level of confidence.

A Seller's Market?

Overall, homeowners are more optimistic about the real estate market, with 57% feeling confident they could sell their home for their asking price today, up from 42% in 2012.

To win over potential buyers, most sellers are willing to update their homes. Here are the percentage of homeowners viewing specific improvements "a critical investment in prepping a home to sell":
  • 69% would make small repairs, like fixing leaky faucets and cracked windows
  • 66% would organize and de-clutter
  • 63% would paint
  • 49% would improve landscaping
  • 33% would update bathrooms
  • 24% would replace out-of-date appliances
  • 23% would hire professionals to stage or clean
To speed up the selling process, 70% of homeowners say they're willing to make certain concessions to sweeten the home buying deal, up from 62% in 2011. The concessions that sellers will offer:
  • 46% will include appliances
  • 32% will make requested repairs
  • 18% will pay closing costs (up from 11% in 2011)

Nearly half of consumers (45%) think the best time to buy is within the next six months.

Remaining & Refinancing

Not everyone is packing up and moving: 25% of Americans are looking to take advantage of low interest rates to re-finance and stay put. Here's what those refinancing will do with the savings:
  • 38% will pay down debt and bills
  • 23% will save the extra cash
  • 12% will apply the money to home improvement projects

What do you plan to do or what did you do with the extra money from your refinance?
 Source: American Express (Echo Research), n = 

Home Improvement Isn't Just an Old TV Show

72% of homeowners have home improvement plans this yearWhether selling or staying, consumers say they'll spend an average of 14% more on home improvement projects this year than last: 72% of Americans, on par with last year, will spend an average of $4,000 on fixing and sprucing up their homes, up from $3,500 in 2012.

Here are the percent of homeowners planning specific home improvements:
  • 63% plan to remodel their interiors, spending an average of $3,300
  • 39% are re-doing a single room, spending $2,900
  • 39% plan to landscape or remodel outdoors, spending $1,800
  • 36% will add new home accessories, spending $333
  • 35% will acquire new furniture, spending $1,083
  • 33% are updating their appliances, spending $1,033
While many of the 72% doing improvements believe the improvements will add to the value of their home, the majority are upgrading because they want a home that better reflects their personal styles. Where do consumers find design inspiration?
  • 39% from traditional broadcast television including DIY and design shows, down slightly from 43% last year
  • 29% from magazines, about the same as last year
  • 14% from social media sites like Pinterest, up from 7% last year

Spending Green to be More Green

Between 2011 and 2013, the amount of Americans spending on sustainable renovations has increased 53%. Of those "greening" their homes:
  • 29% will upgrade to more energy-efficient windows and doors
  • 19% will invest in insulation
  • 18% on heating, ventilation and/or cooling
  • 12% will implement an alternative energy system (e.g. solar power or a geothermal heat pump)
What is the primary reason driving these environmentally friendly upgrades?
  • 31% hope to see a return on investment in energy savings
  • 19% expect an overall improvement in the value of their homes
  • 15% are making an effort to reduce their carbon footprint,
  • 14% are motivated by government tax credits and incentives, which will extend into 2013

For more information on this survey, refer to American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.

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