Remodeling Won't Help You Unload Your Crummy Home

What do Americans do best? Why, shop and spend lots of money fixing up our homes, of course! If a new survey is correct, we the people are about to do both during the rest of this year. That is, provided we have jobs and an income.

American Express says 62 percent of homeowners it recently surveyed intend to spend more than $6,000 each on home improvements in 2010.

That's probably because, according to the survey, 85 percent of homeowners think of their homes as their most valuable assets.

If there's an angle, perhaps it's this: A lot of home-improvers might be fixing up the old abode because they think they will be able to unload (sorry, I mean sell) it soon.

Fifty-three percent of the homeowners polled by AmEx said they believe there will be a sellers' market in just about two more years, so obviously a new door here or a new window there might make a house that much easier to unload (I know, I mean sell).

"It's clear from this month's survey findings that Americans' most-prized possessions are their homes," says Pamela Codispoti, an American Express official, on the company's website, "and they are committed to continuing to enhance its appearance and value in spite of the softer real estate market."

This is all, of course, great news for companies such as Home Depot and Lowe's.

"The gradual recovery in the broader economy should encourage more remodeling spending by homeowners," reports the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper quotes Nicolas Retsinas, director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University: "This year could produce the first annual spending increase in the industry since 2006."

So given the option, what exactly will these homeowners most like to fix around the house?

AmEx found that most want to do indoor remodeling of some sort. They want to redo a room or maybe put in new flooring.

For some reason, richer homeowners and young pros are keen on enhancing their outdoor spaces.

Two in five homeowners claim (I use the word "claim" with great care and precision) that they want to invest in green solutions when it comes to selecting materials for home improvements.

Now, let me quickly dispel one notion you may be having: No, these homeowners are not, for the most part, into doing all this themselves. In fact, says the survey, only 14 percent of homeowners say they will do it themselves. Some plan on "inviting" family or friends to help them, but more say they will just hire a pro.

Good thinking, if you ask me.

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book No Time To Think -- The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle. He has written about real estate-related issues for several years.

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