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Home Decision 2012: Improving or Moving?

10% of Americans Plan on Making a Move; 70% Sprucing Up Homes this Year

NEW YORK, March 28, 2012-Ten percent of Americans, 23 million people, are planning to move to a new home, condo or apartment in 2012, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Of those, just over 10 million plan to make a housing purchase. While only a fraction of the population plans to pick up and move, the majority of homeowners, 70%, have some form of home improvement project on the docket this year.

For the full report, and past Spending & Saving Tracker surveys, click here.

On the Move

Among those who seek new homes, there's a relatively even split between buyers and renters: expected buyers—forty-four percent (44%)—only slightly outnumber those looking to rent, a total of forty-two percent (42%).

For those planning to sell, their open houses may attract guests who only seek inspiration. One in six (17%) have "crashed" an open house with no intent to buy. Most (65%) chalk up the practice to curiosity, but 15% of house crashers see open houses as an opportunity to be inspired and get new design ideas.

Consistent with the 2011 findings, what's impeding more home buying and selling activity is a lack of confidence in the housing market. More than half (52%) are "not very/not at all confident" that they would get the asking prices for their home, if it were on the market today. Perhaps that's why sixty-five percent are willing to make concessions to help sell their home, including paying for buyer's closing costs (15%), offering to make requested repairs (29%), offering to include appliances (41%) and offering to include furniture (12%).

"While confidence in the real estate market has not changed significantly year over year, we are seeing an increase in consumer intent to spend on cosmetic improvements," said Claire Bennett, EVP Loyalty & Membership Benefits, American Express."Purchases of new furniture, appliances and even re-doing a room or outdoor space are all part of the upgrade equation."

Upgrades Planned

Most homeowners (70%) have home improvement plans in 2012 and expect to spend an average of $3,500 to spruce up their homes, an increase in $100 from last year. More than one third of homeowners with improvement plans are spending their bucks on home accessories from throw pillows to appliances (an average of $170)—and new furniture (just under $700).

American Express Cardmembers can also extend their home improvement budgets this season by redeeming Membership Rewards points for gift cards and merchandise from top home-related retailers.

According to the survey, the most popular way homeowners will refurbish is by remodeling indoors (58%). Cosmetic work, such as slapping on a new coat of paint, is the most popular item on the home improvement list (37%). These consumers also plan on outdoor sprucing, with 24% looking to do some landscape work on their property.

If not BUY, than DIY

This year, homeowners with plans to refurbish are going the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) route: more than 72%, compared to last years' 64%, are rolling up their sleeves and breaking out the paint buckets. The affluent market is rolling them up just as high as the general population; 71% of Affluents surveyed are taking refurbishment into their own hands, compared with the 59% who did so last year. Less than one in five Affluents will hire a contractor to do the work—down 6% from last year.

Consumers are deriving inspiration straight from the source: 43% of homeowners with improvement plans named DIY and design shows as their primary inspiration when planning home improvements, followed by in-store displays (33%), online design/DIY websites (32%) and home décor magazines (29%).

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 1500 adults, including the general U.S. population, as well as the sub-group—Affluents. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between March 2 and 5, 2012. Overall, the results have a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.

Affluents are defined as having a minimum annual household income of $100,000.

About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at www.americanexpress.com/ and connect with us on www.facebook.com/americanexpress, www.twitter.com/#!/americanexpress, and www.youtube.com/americanexpress.