Although recent month-to-month volatility in the housing market has softened the ongoing recovery, consumer attitudes have continued to move in a positive direction during the past year, which may portend a pickup in home buying and selling activity this spring, according to Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey for March.
The survey results show that the share of respondents who say it is a good time to sell a home climbed to 38% last month, compared to 26% at the same time last year. In addition, the share who believe it would be easy to get a mortgage today increased to 52%, compared to 47% a year ago, and tying the all-time survey high.
Americans' attitudes regarding their personal finances also have improved: Those who expect their financial situation to worsen during the next 12 months decreased to 12%, a significant drop from 21% at the same time last year. The share who say their personal financial situation improved during the past year reached an all-time survey high of 40%.
The share of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months decreased slightly to 48%, while the share who say home prices will go down decreased to 5%, an all-time survey low.
Those who say mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months decreased to 54%, and those who said they will go down fell to 3%, tying the all-time survey low. Fifty-two percent of respondents thought it would be easy for them to get a home mortgage today, tying the all-time survey high first reached in January.
The share who say the economy is on the right track continued on a downward trend, decreasing two percentage points from last month to 33%.
The percentage of respondents who expect their personal financial situation to stay the same over the next 12 months increased four percentage points to 45%, tying a survey all-time high.
The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago decreased three percentage points to 21%. The share who say their household expenses are significantly lower than they were 12 months ago fell one percentage point to 8%, tying the all-time survey low.
‘The housing recovery continues to proceed in fits and starts. Rising mortgage rates and a lack of supply have dampened housing market momentum,’ says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae.
However, he adds that there are many more "positive signs" this year, compared to the same time last year (e.g., consumers more optimistic about their personal financial situation, getting a mortgage and the selling environment).
"Still, those who are pessimistic about buying or selling a home today tend to point to economic conditions as the primary issue, and most consumers continue to say the economy is on the wrong track. Looking forward, we expect to see a pickup in economic growth later in the year, and this may boost the confidence of prospective buyers and sellers," Duncan concludes.