Consumer attitudes toward housing appear to have stabilized, largely unchanged over the last few months but at levels markedly higher than last year. Results from Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey for August showed that thirty-five percent of survey respondents expect home prices to rise over the next year, unchanged from June and July, but up from 20 percent in August 2011.
The percentage of those who expect further price declines was also unchanged from the two previous months at 11 percent while the percentage of respondents expecting prices to remain stagnant has remained virtually unchanged, varying between 48 and 50 percent for the last 12 months. Among those expecting a price increase the average bump expected was 1.6 percent
Fannie Mae's monthly survey involves a rolling panel of 1,002 respondents representing homeowners with and without mortgages and renters. Panel members are asked 100 questions via a live telephone interview about their attitudes toward owning and renting a home, mortgage rates, the economy, and their personal finances.
Asked about the health of the market, 73 percent of respondents felt it was a good time to buy a house, a number that has remained flat for the last six months and is up only four points from August 2011. However, while the numbers are still small, the percentage of persons who felt it is a good time to sell has doubled in the same period, climbing from 9 percent last August to 18 percent in the recent survey.
More people think that the current mortgage rates are too good to last. Higher rates within the next 12 months are now expected by 40 percent, up from 36 percent in July.
Expectations about rent increases have eased a bit with 44 percent expecting rents to rise compared to 47 percent in June. The percentage expecting rents to decrease is still negligible but rose from 3 percent in July to 5 percent in August. The rent increase expected decreased to 3.2
The percentage of respondents who say they would buy if they were going to move increased slightly to 67 percent, while 28 percent would rent.
Consumer attitudes toward the housing market remain modestly positive, despite signs of increased concern over the direction of the economy," said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae. "While the latest results showed a pickup in the share of consumers expecting mortgage rates to rise, reflecting the uptrend of long-term interest rates since mid-July, that may soon change. Friday's disappointing jobs report underpins the gradual nature of this year's housing recovery and supports our view that the muted economic recovery is still subject to downside risk and that additional Fed easing will soon be forthcoming."
Optimism about housing did not extend to the nation's economy or the respondent's personal financial situation. Respondents saying the economy is on the right track declined slightly to 33 percent and is down 5 points from the May peak while the wrong track responses went from 58 percent to 60. Despite the waning optimism, wrong track responses were down 18 points from August 2011 and right track responses have doubled.
Questions about personal finances elicited slightly more positive responses since July with 15 percent saying they thought things would get worse over the next 12 months, a two point drop, while those who expected no change or improvement were both steady at slightly over 40 percent.