Consumer attitudes toward housing and the economy in general continued the slow improvement that has become the norm according to results from the October National Housing Survey. Fannie Mae which sponsors the survey said the share of respondent households voicing confidence that their personal financial situation would improve over the next 12 months climbed to 45 percent. This was only a one point gain from the September survey but was seven points higher than one year ago and the highest it has been since June 2013. At the same time the percentage of those who expected personal finances would worsen over that time frame dropped 2 points to 10 percent compared to 22 percent in October 2013.
Those who say it is a good time to buy a house fell three points to 65 percent but those who view it as a good time to sell a home increased to 44 percent-a new all-time survey high. It was also the narrowest the gap has been between the two indicators since Fannie Mae began the survey in June 2010.
The share of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months eased back one point to 44 percent, staying within the narrow mid-40's range where the response has floated since June. The share who say home prices will go down decreased by one point to 7 percent. Among those who expect home prices to rise the average expectation for that increase over the next 12 months was 2.8 percent compared to 2.2 percent in September.
In September the share of those expecting higher mortgages rates dropped by five percentage points while the share expecting rates to stabilize rose 5, each response representing 45 percent of respondents. The optimism was short lived and in October 48 percent expected rates to rise while 38 percent thought they would stay the same. Half of respondents said they thought it would be difficult for them to even get a mortgage today, a 2 percentage point increase from September.
The percentage of respondents who expect home rental prices to go up in the next 12 months decreased by six percentage points to 49 percent while the average expectation for rental increases rose to 3.7 percent.
When asked their choice if they were to move 65 percent said they would buy their next home, down one point from the previous survey while 30 percent said they would rent, a 2 point increase. One year ago 70 percent of respondents indicated a preference for home ownership.
Forty percent of respondents said the economy was on the right track, unchanged from the previous survey, while 53 percent say it is on the wrong track, a one point decline. In October 2013 the wrong track answer was given by 67 percent and the right track by 27 percent.
"Consumers are growing more optimistic about the housing market in the face of broader improvement in economic sentiment," said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. "The share of consumers who expect their personal finances to get better is near its highest level since the survey's inception, while those expecting their finances to get worse reached a survey low. Home price expectations rose significantly this month, largely reversing the dip witnessed over the past four months, and the share of consumers who think it's a good time to sell a home reached another survey high. The narrowing gap between home buying and home selling sentiment may foreshadow increased housing inventory levels and a better balance of housing supply and demand. These results may help drive a healthier housing market in 2015."
The Fannie Mae National Housing Survey polls 1,000 Americans, both homeowners and renters, by phone. Respondents are asked over 100 questions about owning and renting a home, home and rental price changes, their personal financial situation, and homeownership and the economy in general. For the current survey the cell phone dialing rate was increased to 60 percent to reflect the growing share of households without a landline. The October survey was conducted between October 1 and October 25, 2014.