After several years of understandable negativity toward the economy and the real estate market, a new survey shows that Americans’ concerns about key economic and housing issues are beginning to subside.
Fannie Mae’s February 2012 National Housing Survey shows that consumer attitudes have stabilized across most indicators—including personal finances, housing, and employment—compared to late summer and fall of 2011. The survey polls 1,003 Americans via telephone interview to assess their attitudes toward owning and renting a home, mortgage rates, homeownership distress, the economy, household finances, and overall consumer confidence. Homeowners and renters are asked more than 100 questions used to track attitudinal shifts.
The survey shows that the most dramatic change revolves around the economy—35 percent of Americans now feel that the economy is on the right track, up 19 percentage points since November, and 57 percent think the economy is on the wrong track, down 18 percentage points since November.
Americans’ confidence about personal financial situations, household income, and household expenses, as well as attitudes about homeownership and renting is holding at steady levels. Also important to note, Americans’ concerns about losing their job in the next 12 months has stabilized since the late fall, with 76 percent of Americans saying they are not concerned in February 2012, compared to 70 percent in November 2011. Fannie Mae believes that the recent pick-up in the pace of hiring over the past few months is directly responsible for alleviating consumer concerns about unemployment.
Here are some additional highlights from this important survey:
- Only 12 percent of respondents believe that their personal financial situation will worsen in the next 12 months, a 3 percentage point drop from January and the lowest value in over a year.
- 33 percent say their expenses have increased significantly over the past 12 months, a 3 percentage point decrease from last month and the lowest level in the past 12 months.
- 28 percent of respondents expect home prices to increase over the next 12 months (consistent with last month), while 15 percent say they expect home prices to decline (down 1 percentage point since last month).
- 10 percent of Americans say that mortgage rates will go down in the next 12 months, a 2 percentage point increase from last month.
- The percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to sell rose by 3 percentage points to 13 percent, the highest level in over a year.
- 45 percent of respondents think that home rental prices will go up, a 2 percentage point increase from last month.
As rents continue to increase and more home sellers enter the market, the next few months represent a critical opportunity to purchase your first home or move up to your next home. Positive data like the above will quickly build momentum in the current housing market.
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