Americans are on the move, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Fifteen percent of Americans, or 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 Americans have at least one home improvement project on their to-do list this year, expecting to spend an average of $4,000.
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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, a 36% increase from 2012.Nearly half of consumers (45%) think the best time to buy is within the next six months. To speed up the process, most homeowners (70%) say they’re willing to make certain concessions to sweeten the home buying deal, a trend that’s increased 13% since 2011. Concessions include: throwing in appliances (46%), making requested repairs (32%) as well as paying closing costs (18%, up 64% since 2011). Before concessions can be agreed upon, sellers will woo potential buyers by putting their house’s “best foot” forward. The most important fixes and upgrades according to consumers include: making small repairs, like leaky faucets and damaged plaster (69%), organizing and de-cluttering (66%), painting (63%), improving landscaping (49%), updating of bathrooms (33%), replacing out-of-date appliances (24%) and hiring professionals to stage or clean (23%). Not everyone is packing up and moving; 25% of Americans are looking to take advantage of low interest rates to re-finance. Among them, 38% will use their refinancing savings to pay down debt and bills, 23% will put the extra cash in a piggy bank and 12% will put the money towards home improvement projects.