Homeowners spending rebate on home improvement

DENVER, April 29, 2008 – Resilient American homeowners intend to shake off concerns about the slumping real estate market and plant the money they receive as part of the federal economic stimulus package into what for many is their most important financial asset: their homes.

A national consumer opinion survey released today found that 24 percent of U.S. homeowners are “considering using” the money they will receive as part of the federal economic stimulus package to upgrade or improve their homes. In addition, roughly one in five respondents, or 19 percent, said they would “definitely use” their rebate money for a home improvement project. The survey was conducted in April by Johns Manville (JM), a building and specialty products manufacturer, and Opinion Research Corp., a market research firm.

“The federal government is hoping that Americans will spend these checks and help stimulate the nation’s economy, and this survey confirms that many Americans are prepared to do that, at least when it comes to their homes,” said Wayne Russum, senior vice president of Opinion Research Corp.

Among respondents who said they are not considering using their rebate check for a home improvement, the most common intended uses were saving it (45 percent), paying down debt (40 percent), taking a vacation (14 percent), purchasing a luxury item (9 percent), or something else (5 percent).

The tax rebates were created earlier this year by a Congressional bill aimed at encouraging consumer spending in the face of a slumping economy and a weak housing market. The checks started arriving in taxpayers’ bank accounts on Monday. Single taxpayers with annual adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 qualify, as do joint filers making less than $150,000.

The telephone survey of 751 American homeowners was conducted from April 11 – 14 by Opinion Research Corp., a national market research firm based in New Jersey, on behalf of Johns Manville, an international building materials manufacturer based in Denver. The survey’s sampling error was plus or minus four percentage points.

The survey found that the most popular projects for respondents considering using their rebate checks for a home improvement project included: household upgrades, including landscaping (23 percent) or an upgrade of the bathroom (13 percent) or kitchen (12 percent); improving their homes’ energy efficiency, including adding attic insulation (9 percent), caulking or sealing (4 percent), or installing energy efficient light bulbs (4 percent); or painting a room (10 percent). 

The survey’s other key findings included:

  • Homeowners between the ages of 25 and 34 were most likely to consider using the rebate checks for a home improvement (33 percent); homeowners older than 65 were least likely (20 percent).
  • Homeowners in the West were most likely to use their rebate check for a home improvement (27 percent); homeowners in the South were least likely (22 percent).
  • The most common reasons cited for pursuing a home improvement project with the rebate money were comfort (34 percent), aesthetics (17 percent), environmental impact (15 percent), resale (13 percent), and return on investment (8 percent).
  • Among all respondents, 31 percent of homeowners said they are planning to start a home improvement project during May, which is National Home Improvement Month.

“Clearly, many homeowners agree that investing in their homes can improve their quality of life and provide a solid return on investment,” said Mark Ziegert, JM’s senior brand manager for building insulation products. “People who use their rebate check to improve their home’s energy efficiency not only enhance the comfort of their home, they will achieve cost saving in both the winter and summer through improved energy efficiency, and they may increase the resale value of the home.”   

About Johns Manville

Johns Manville, a Berkshire Hathaway company (NYSE: BRK.A, BRK.B), is a leading manufacturer and marketer of premium-quality building and specialty products. In business since 1858, the Denver-based company has annual sales in excess of $2 billion and holds leadership positions in all of the key markets that it serves. Johns Manville employs approximately 7,800 people and operates 41 manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe and China.

About the Survey

The 2008 Rebate Check Spending survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for building products manufacturer Johns Manville.  The survey was conducted via telephone April 11 – 14, 2008, and contacted a total of 751 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older who are homeowners in the continental United States.  Results were weighted by age, gender, race and region to ensure a representative sample.  Using Opinion Research’s CARAVAN methodology, the data was collected from a national probability telephone sample, a form of random-digit-dialing (RDD).  Respondents were asked seven questions regarding their thoughts and planned uses of the federal economic stimulus rebate checks.  The margin of error for results based on the total survey is plus or minus four percentage points.