Improving Consumer Attitudes Suggest Continued Strength in Housing Market
More Americans Believe Economy Headed in Right Direction
WASHINGTON, DC – Despite continued uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff, Americans are showing increased confidence in the housing market and the direction of the economy. According to results from Fannie Mae’s November 2012 National Housing Survey, such improvement bodes especially well for continued strengthening in the housing sector, which in turn is likely to support overall economic growth.
“Consumer attitudes toward both the economy and the housing market continue to gather momentum, with many of our 11 key National Housing Survey indicators at or near their two-and-a-half-year highs,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae. “On the housing front, attitudes about the current selling environment continue to improve, with a significant increase in those saying it would be a good time to sell. This growing confidence in a housing recovery, in addition to other factors, may reinforce growing consumer optimism regarding the improving direction of the general economy. Those indicating that the economy is on the right track has risen to 44 percent while those saying it’s on the wrong track has fallen to 50 percent, the smallest gap since the survey's inception.”
The November survey results show significant movement across many of the indicators. The share of respondents who say now is a good time to sell a home jumped 5 percentage points in November to 23 percent – the highest level since the survey began in June 2010 – narrowing the gap with those who say it is a good time to buy. The percentage of respondents who expect mortgage rates to go up increased by 4 percentage points to 41 percent. Those expecting home prices to go down within the next year also rose by 4 percentage points to 14 percent over last month, a rebound from the survey's record low in the prior month, while the share who believe home prices will go up in the next 12 months edged up to 37 percent, tying the survey high. Of note, 51 percent of respondents now say it would be easy to get a mortgage, marking the highest rate since the survey’s inception (this survey finding is in addition to the 11 National Housing Survey indictors).
When asked about the economy, those who say it is on the wrong track dipped 6 percentage points since October and a total of 25 percentage points in the past year. Respondents expressed some improvement in the status of their current finances; however, due potentially to the looming fiscal cliff, the share who expect their personal financial situation to get worse over the next 12 months rose 5 percentage points to 18 percent – the highest level since December 2011.
Homeownership and Renting
- Average home price change expectation held steady at 1.7 percent.
- Fourteen percent of those surveyed say that home prices will go down in the next 12 months, a 4 percentage point increase over last month.
- The percentage who think mortgage rates will go up continued to rise, increasing 4 percentage points in November to 41 percent.
- Twenty-three percent of respondents say it is a good time to sell, a 5 percentage point increase over last month, and the highest level since the survey’s inception.
- The average rental price expectation hit 4 percent in November, a 0.9 percent rise over the past two months.
- Forty-eight percent of those surveyed say home rental prices will go up in the next 12 months, a slight decrease from last month.
- The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move held relatively steady at 67 percent.
- Fifty-one percent of respondents now say it would be easy to get a mortgage, marking the highest rate since the survey’s inception.
The Economy and Household Finances
- Hitting 50 percent for the first time since the survey’s inception, the percentage who think the economy is on the wrong track has declined by 25 percentage points over the past year, and by 6 percentage points from last month.
- The percentage who expect their personal financial situation to get worse over the next 12 months rose 5 percentage points to 18 percent, the highest level since December 2011.
- Meanwhile, 21 percent of respondents say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago.
- Household expenses remained stable over the past month, with 56 percent responding that their household expenses stayed the same compared to 12 months ago.
The most detailed consumer attitudinal survey of its kind, the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey polled 1,001 Americans via live 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 (findings are compared to the same survey conducted monthly beginning June 2010). 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 November 2012 survey, as well as a podcast providing an audio synopsis of the survey results and technical notes on survey methodology and questions asked of respondents associated with each monthly indicator, please visit the Fannie Mae Monthly National Housing Survey site. Also available on the site are topic analysis reports that provide deeper insights into one or more issues based on the compilation of three monthly studies. The November 2012 Fannie Mae National Housing Survey was conducted between November 5, 2012 and November 20, 2012. 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.
Fannie Mae is a leading provider of mortgage credit in the United States. We guarantee and purchase loans so that families can buy homes, refinance their existing mortgages, or access affordable rental housing. Fannie Mae is focused on assisting homeowners in distress, stabilizing neighborhoods, and encouraging sustainable lending. We are committed to improving our financial condition and our priorities are aligned with the public interest. Our work supports the housing recovery today and is helping to build a better housing finance system for the future.
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