Consumer Optimism Toward the Economy Reaches New All-Time Survey High

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News Release

March 09, 2015

Consumer Optimism Toward the Economy Reaches New All-Time Survey High

Expected Ease of Getting a Mortgage Also Hits Record High as Overall Housing Sentiment Holds Steady

Katie Penote

202-752-2261

WASHINGTON, DC – Amid continued strengthening in employment, consumer optimism toward the economy is growing and appears to be contributing to further improvement in overall housing sentiment, according to results from Fannie Mae's February 2015 National Housing Survey. The share of respondents who believe the economy is headed in the right direction increased 3 percentage points last month to an all-time survey high of 47 percent, while the share who believe it is headed in the wrong direction decreased to 45 percent, a new survey low. Additionally, the share who believe it would be easy to get a home mortgage today increased to a record-high 54 percent while a survey low 43 percent think it would be difficult to get a mortgage.

"Continuing improvements in consumer attitudes in this month’s National Housing Survey lend support to our expectation that 2015 will be a year of the economy dragging housing upward," said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. "The share of consumers who think the economy is on the right track rose to a record high since the inception of the survey nearly five years ago and for the first time exceeded the share who believe it’s on the wrong track. Consumer confidence seems to be getting a boost from employment growth. This is reflected in their views on the ease of getting a mortgage today, which also reached a survey high in February. We continue to see strength in attitudes about the current home buying and selling environment and consistently high shares of consumers saying they expect to buy a home on their next move. At the same time, we still need to see further growth in consumer optimism toward personal finances and income for more robust improvement in housing market attitudes."

SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS

Homeownership and Renting

  • The average 12-month home price change expectation remained at 2.5 percent.
  • The share of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months fell to 46 percent. The share who say home prices will go down fell to 6 percent.
  • The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months increased back to 48 percent.
  • Those who say it is a good time to buy a house remained at 67 percent. Those who say it is a good time to sell decreased by 4 percentage points to 40 percent.
  • The average 12-month rental price change expectation increased to 4.0 percent.
  • The percentage of respondents who expect home rental prices to go up in the next 12 months remained at 52 percent.
  • At a survey high of 54 percent of respondents think it would be easy to get a home mortgage today, while the share saying it would be difficult to get a mortgage fell 4 percentage points to 43 percent—a survey low
  • The share who say they would buy if they were going to move fell 1 percentage point to 65 percent, while the share who would rent remained at 29 percent.

The Economy and Household Finances

  • The share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track increased by 3 percentage points to 47 percent—an all-time survey high, coupled with a survey low of 45 percent of those saying the economy is on the wrong track.
  • The percentage of respondents who expect their personal financial situation to get better over the next 12 months fell to 46 percent.
  • The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago fell 5 percentage points to 24 percent.
  • The share of respondents who say their household expenses are significantly higher than they were 12 months fell to 31 percent.

The most detailed consumer attitudinal survey of its kind, Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey polled 1,000 Americans via live telephone interview 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. Homeowners and renters are asked more than 100 questions used to track attitudinal shifts (findings are compared to the same survey conducted monthly beginning June 2010). To reflect the growing share of households with a cell phone but no landline, the National Housing Survey has increased its cell phone dialing rate to 60 percent as of October 2014. For more information, please see the Technical Notes. Fannie Mae conducts this survey and shares monthly and quarterly results so that we may help industry partners and market participants target our collective efforts to stabilize the housing market in the near-term, and provide support in the future.

For detailed findings from the February 2015 survey, as well as technical notes on survey methodology and questions asked of respondents associated with each monthly indicator, please visit the Fannie Mae Monthly National Housing Survey page on fanniemae.com. Also available on the site are in-depth topic analyses, which provide a detailed assessment of combined data results from three monthly studies. The February 2015 National Housing Survey was conducted between February 1, 2015 and February 23, 2015. Most of the data collection occurred during the first two weeks of this period. Interviews were conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, in coordination with Fannie Mae.

 

Opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, and other views of Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research (ESR) Group included in these materials should not be construed as indicating Fannie Mae's business prospects or expected results, are based on a number of assumptions, and are subject to change without notice. How this information affects Fannie Mae will depend on many factors. Although the ESR Group bases its opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, and other views on information it considers reliable, it does not guarantee that the information provided in these materials is accurate, current, or suitable for any particular purpose. Changes in the assumptions or the information underlying these views could produce materially different results. The analyses, opinions, estimates, forecasts, and other views published by the ESR Group represent the views of that group as of the date indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of Fannie Mae or its management.

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