If data from Fannie Mae's March National Housing Survey is any indication, consumers seem to have grown a bit uneasy as many of the positive responses given to survey questions in February deteriorated in March.  As Fannie Mae put it, "Consumer attitudes toward housing appear to have stalled somewhat amid a recent dip in confidence regarding personal finances and income growth."

Survey respondents who felt the economy was on the right track hit an all-time survey high in February only to drop four points to 43 percent in March.  Responses that the economy was on the wrong track rose three points to 48 percent.  

The share of those who expect their financial situation to improve over the next 12 months fell to 41 percent from 44 percent while those who think it will get worse rose three points to 14 percent.   There was also a three point bump in those who reported significantly lower income and four points in those reporting significantly higher household expenses than 12 months earlier.




The negativity extended to housing.  The share of respondents who said they would buy a home if they were to move decreased 5 percentage points to 60 percent - a new all-time survey low and the share of those who thought it would be easy for them to get a mortgage fell four percentage points to 50 percent.  The percentage consumers who expect mortgage rates to increase over the next 12 months also increased by four points.



On the bright side, the share of consumers who believe now is a good time to sell a home reached a new survey high of 46 percent, narrowing the gap with those reporting it is a good time to buy, perhaps signaling a more balanced housing market. 

Forty-eight percent of respondents expect home prices to rise over the next 12 months compared to 46 percent in February and the average increase expected went from 2.5 to 2.7 percent. 

"Consumers are being patient prior to entering the housing market. Our March survey results emphasize how critical attitudes about income growth are to consumers' outlook on housing," said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. "We've seen modest improvement in total compensation resulting from a strengthened labor market. However, income growth perceptions and personal financial expectations both eased off of recent highs, consistent with Friday's weak jobs report. Simultaneously, the share of consumers expecting to buy on their next move has declined. We believe the recent setback in consumer sentiment should be short lived if early signs of income growth bear out and occur in proportion to expected interest rate increases. Meanwhile, the wait for housing expansion continues." 

Fannie Mae's survey is conducted monthly by phone among about 1,000 consumers, both homeowners and renters.  They are asked over 100 questions to assess their attitudes toward owning and renting a home, home and rental price changes, homeownership distress, the economy, household finances, and overall consumer confidence. The March 2015 National Housing Survey was conducted between March 1, 2015 and March 23, 2015 with most data collected during the first two weeks of this period.