Real Estate 2015 Trends: Fewer to Move, More to Renovate

Americans more likely to stay put, though Californians and New Yorkers will move more frequently

Green home improvement projects on the rise, but fewer Americans want to DIY

NEW YORK--()--27.8 million Americans, or 12% of the population, plan to move this year, down from last year’s 16%, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Though more are staying put, two of the country’s most densely populated states, California and New York, are setting a more aggressive pace, with 19% and 17% of their residents making a move, respectively.

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Overall, the survey findings reflect the housing market’s continued recovery. Fewer people say it’s a buyer’s market, while a quarter now feel we’re in a seller’s market, a significant increase from just three years ago.

Year       It’s a Buyer’s Market       It’s a Seller’s Market
2015       37%       25%
2014       39%       20%
2013       45%       12%

More to Trade New Houses for Improved Homes; Ditch DIY for Contractors

As more Americans decide to stay in their current housing, widespread home improvements will continue (75% vs. 73% in 2014), spending about the same as last year, on average, for projects ($4,100 vs. $4,000 in 2014).

While there’s little change in the amount of people doing home improvements, there’s a shift in who will complete them. More are turning to contractors to make their home improvement vision a reality (21% vs. 15% in 2014), over opting for the DIY approach. Those that say they will commit the time and energy to DIY declined significantly this year (65% vs. 72% in 2014).

“Retailers can expect to see more interest in home-related purchases - everything from furniture and fixtures to paint and plants,” said David Rabkin, SVP of Consumer Lending Products, American Express. “While fewer people are planning to move this year, they are investing in home improvement projects, and more are turning to professionals for help.”

In general, Americans will focus more on remodeling indoor spaces instead of outdoor (65% vs. 39%) Top projects this year include:

  • Redoing a kitchen or bathroom (40% vs. 35% in 2014)
  • Cosmetic work, like painting (31%, on par with 2014)
  • Improving landscaping (22%, on par with 2014)
  • Installing new flooring (21% vs. 19% in 2014)
  • Building/redoing a deck or patio (12% vs. 14% in 2014)

Also more common this year are green home improvement plan (52% vs. 48% in 2014), like getting more efficient windows and doors (31% vs. 28% in 2014) or alternative energy systems (30% vs. 14% in 2014). The survey also oversampled Americans in the four largest states, and found that New Yorkers (64%) and Floridians (63%) are setting the pace for green home improvement, beating out California (62%), known as one of the nation’s “greener” states.

For Americans embarking on home improvement projects this year, home design TV shows provide homeowners with their biggest source of inspiration (37% vs. 38% in 2014). Similarly online magazines and DIY-themed blogs (32% vs. 30% in 2014) as well as social media sites (22% vs. 19% in 2014) also serve to inspire.

About the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 1,882 adults, including the general U.S. population, as well as an affluent demographic defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000. Interviewing was conducted by Ebiquity between February 25 – March 3, 2015. The results have an overall margin of error of +/- 2.3 at the 95 percent level of confidence.

About American Express

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Of the Americans moving, half say they will rent (up from 44% in 2014), and 46% will purchase their home (on par with last year).

Among current home owners, 71% are confident they could get asking price if they put their home on the market today, up significantly from last year’s 65%. In fact 40% would not be willing to settle for less (vs. 38% in 2014).


American Express
Kimberly Litt, 212-640-0453

Release Summary

27.8 million Americans, or 12% of the population, plan to move this year, down from last year’s 16%, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.


American Express
Kimberly Litt, 212-640-0453