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RISMEDIA, April 4, 2011—As the cold temperatures become a distant memory, and the spring selling season gains momentum, consumers have come to agree on one thing—now’s a good time to get off the fence and into the real estate market. This is the overall theme in the latest American Express Spending and Saving Tracker survey, a monthly survey that tracks the spending and saving habits of consumers in order to get an indication of what’s happening in the market. “This month’s Spending and Saving Tracker provided an up-to-date look at various consumer trends and gave us the opportunity to assess how consumers are feeling about the current market in addition to gauging homeowner confidence,” says Leah Gerstner, vice president of public affairs at American Express.

“This month’s survey points to the fact that consumers overwhelmingly feel that we are in the midst of a buyer’s market,” she adds. The data also points to the fact that a seller’s market is at least a year away, which is certainly positive news. While homeowners aren’t necessarily willing to settle for less than the asking price when selling their home, two of the biggest areas of interest in the latest survey deal with homeowners including home improvement projects on their to-do list, as well as the willingness to include concessions to get their home sold.

Home Improvements
“In looking at the results of our latest Spending and Saving Tracker survey, our thinking was that if consumers overwhelmingly view today’s market as a buyer’s market—which they do—they are likely to have plans to put more money into their home,” adds Gerstner. In fact, the survey found that about 64 percent of homeowners currently have home improvement projects on their to-do list for 2011. While the plans are in place, the amount that homeowners are budgeting to spend has gone down quite a bit from last year. “Homeowners are looking for better ways to stretch their dollars, and many are looking toward energy-efficient home improvements that will pay off in the long run.” The survey shows that among homeowners who are looking to go green, the most common items homeowners would spend their money on include energy-efficient windows and doors, insulation, roofing, heating and cooling systems as well as alternative energy systems.

Concessions
Another finding that stood out in the latest survey had to do with whether or not sellers were willing to make concessions to get their homes sold, especially in today’s market. While 44 percent of sellers were willing to give away appliances during a sale—the biggest concession among young professionals and affluent homeowners—another 28 percent said they would take care of requested repairs in order to get their home sold. “While a large majority of sellers are willing to make concessions to get their home off the market, the willingness to make concessions is down among young professionals when compared with the 2010 survey,” says Gerstner. “This is an important finding as it shows that young professionals are more confident in their ability to sell their homes today.”

“Homeowner confidence in today’s market has increased compared to last year,” says Gerstner. “In fact, the survey shows that the confidence level is pretty evenly split—42 percent of homeowners are confident they will get their asking price in today’s market, while 47 percent of homeowners aren’t that confident.” Even though home values continue to be on the low side, young professionals and affluent homeowners are seemingly more confident in today’s market.


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