Housing Recovery Expected to Press On Despite Recent Volatility in Consumer Attitudes

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News Release

March 10, 2014

Housing Recovery Expected to Press On Despite Recent Volatility in Consumer Attitudes

Pete Bakel

202-752-2034

WASHINGTON, DC – Americans’ outlook on housing and the economy has fluctuated somewhat during the past few months, but the trend for most indicators remains positive overall, according to Fannie Mae’s February 2014 National Housing Survey results. Notably, respondents’ home price expectations climbed significantly in February – with 50 percent saying home prices will go up in the next year – following a measurable downturn in January, while the share of those who believe it is a good time to buy a home ticked up by 3 percentage points. At the same time, those who believe that it would be easy to get a mortgage dropped 7 percentage points from January’s all-time survey high of 52 percent. Additionally, the share of respondents who say the economy is on the wrong track increased 3 percentage points to 57 percent in February, following a four-month decline. Despite a decrease in optimism across some of the indicators last month, consumer attitudes remain in generally positive ranges.

“Similar to the noisy economic and housing data published over the past few months, we've seen a corresponding increase in volatility in our survey results, particularly for home price expectations and perceptions about the ease of getting a mortgage,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Weather may have played a role, as suggested by a 6 percentage point jump over the past two months in the share of consumers who say their household expenses are significantly higher than a year ago. This response would be consistent with higher home heating costs. Despite the volatile month-to-month changes, we believe that the housing recovery is continuing, but is not yet robust.”

SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS

Homeownership and Renting

  • The average 12-month home price change expectation increased from last month, to 3.2 percent.
  • The share of people who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months increased 7 percentage points to 50 percent, while the share who say home prices will stay the same decreased by seven percentage points to 38 percent.
  • The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months increased by 1 percentage point, to 56 percent.
  • Those who say it is a good time to buy a house increased from last month, up 3 percentage points to 68 percent.
  • The average 12-month rental price change expectation increased from last month to 4.3 percent.
  • Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said home rental prices will go up in the next 12 months, an increase of 3 percentage points from last month.
  • Forty-five percent of respondents thought it would be easy for them to get a home mortgage today, a 7 percentage point decrease from last month.
  • The share who say they would buy if they were going to move fell 4 percentage points to 66 percent, and those who say they would rent increased to 30 percent.

The Economy and Household Finances

  • The share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track decreased 4 percentage points from last month to 35 percent.
  • The percentage of respondents who expect their personal financial situation to get better in the next 12 months decreased slightly from last month, to 43 percent.
  • The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago increased 2 percentage points to 24 percent.
  • At 36 percent, the share of respondents who say their household expenses are significantly higher than they were 12 months ago rose 4 percentage points from last month.

The most detailed consumer attitudinal survey of its kind, the Fannie Mae 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). 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 2014 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 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 2014 Fannie Mae National Housing Survey was conducted between February 1, 2014 and February 23, 2014. 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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