Americans stay put; instead accessorize

  • By Dawn Wotapka, wsj.com
  • Published April 2012

A scant 10 percent of Americans plan to move to a new residence this year, while 70 percent plan some sort of home improvement, showing that consumers continue staying put as they wait for the housing crisis to finish playing out.



Americans stay put; instead accessorize

Of those looking to move, some 44 percent expect to buy, while 42 percent are looking to rent, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker survey released in March. (The questions related to moving are new this year, so no previous comparison is available.)

Not surprisingly, the survey found a lack of confidence in the housing market is hampering buying and selling activity. More than half of those surveyed are "not very/not at all confident" that they would get their asking price. Most respondents are also willing to make concessions to help sell their home-including paying for buyer's closing costs (15 percent), offering to make requested repairs (29 percent), offering to include appliances (41 percent) and offering to include furniture (12 percent).

With so many people deciding to stay put, more people are investing in their abodes, with plans to spend an average of $3,500, up slightly from the prior year. On their shopping lists? Home accessories, appliances and new furniture, according to the survey.

Most people plan indoor changes, with a new coat of paint the most popular item. Nearly 25 percent of those polled plan some outdoor landscape work. In what might be bad news for handymen, more than 70 percent of respondents are taking the do-it-yourself route, up from 64 percent a year ago. Even wealthier respondents-defined as households with an annual income of at least $100,000-are pinching pennies: Less than one-in-five will hire a contractor, down from the prior year.

The survey conducted between March 2 and 5, polled a random sample of 1,500 adults. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.