Americans' attitudes toward most key housing measures remained stable between February and March.  The National Housing Survey conducted monthly by Fannie Mae showed continued optimism toward housing and the economy although there were emerging concerns about personal finances.

The percentage of the 1,004 persons surveyed who believe this is a good time to purchase a home remained essentially unchanged from February at around 73 percent but the percentage who believe this is a good time to sell reached a survey high of 26 percent compared to 25 percent in February and is double the percentage with that opinion one year earlier.

Forty-eight percent of respondents expect home prices to increase over the next 12 months, unchanged from February.  This is the highest rate since the survey was first conducted in 2010.  Only 10 percent expect prices to decrease, unchanged from February.

The average expectation for a price increase has moderated slightly from the record high 2.9 percent voiced by respondents in February to 2.7 percent.  Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae's senior vice president and chief economist points out that, while homeowners are optimistic they are cautiously so.  'While the survey shows a string of 17 positive one-year-ahead home price expectations through March, the average expected gains have remained below 3 percent. By comparison, main measures of national home prices in early 2013 posted year-over-year gains of at least double or triple that figure."

Half of those surveyed expect rents to increase in the next 12 months, the same as in February while only 4 percent expect them to go down.  The average expectation for rent increases is 4.1 percent, up from 3.9 percent the previous month.

Forty-six percent of respondents expect interest rates to increase over the next 12 months, up from 45 percent while only 6 percent think they will fall further.   The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move fell 3 percentage points to 64 percent.

At 35 percent, the share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track is down 3 percentage points compared to February.  Right track responses have been on a general downward track since November when they peaked near 50 percent. 

The percentage of respondents who expect their personal financial situation to get worse over the next 12 months rose by 4 percentage points to 21 percent.  Sixty-one percent report little change in household income, a number that has been virtually flat for the past year while those reporting higher expenses over the past 12 months ticked up slightly to 32 percent. 

Fannie Mae conducts its telephone survey each month since June 2010 to assess the attitudes of Americans toward owning and renting a home, home and rental price changes, homeowner distress, the economy, and household finances.  Both homeowners and renters are contacted for the survey which includes more than 100 questions.  The bulk of data collection for the current survey occurred during the first two weeks of March.