Fannie Mae survey finds optimism about buying a home


South Florida Business Journal

Date: Monday, July 9, 2012, 3:09pm EDT – Last Modified: Monday, July 9, 2012, 3:11pm EDT


Housing market confidence among Americans continues to trend in a positive direction despite stalling optimism about the economy and personal finances, according to results from Fannie Mae’s    June 2012 National Housing Survey.

The report contrasts with the plummeting housing market during and after the recession, but mirrors a report by the University of Florida in June that the median price for a Florida house was $147,000, the highest since August 2009. Short sales now account for more sales than foreclosures.

Fannie Mae’s results indicate flattening economic trends may be contributing to waning consumer expectations about their personal financial situation, which was reflected by a 4 point drop in Floridians’ consumer confidence in June.

Americans’ continued positive sentiment about housing appears to remain buoyed by low house prices and interest rates at historically low levels, Fannie Mae said in a news release.

“While consumers remain cautious about the general economy, their attitudes toward the housing market continue to improve,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae. “Although this positive trend may be short-lived if the general economy falters, one might ask whether consumers are increasingly seeing the current environment as a unique opportunity to buy a home while home prices remain depressed, rental costs are increasing, and interest rates are near historic lows.”

Respondents expect home prices to increase 2 percent in the next year, on average, and 35 percent of Americans say that home prices will go up in the next twelve months (also the highest level recorded since the survey began in June 2010). In turn, the share of consumers who say they would buy if they were going to move increased by 6 percentage points this month (the highest level seen in the survey’s two-year history)

At the same time, 36 percent of Americans think the economy is on the right track (down 2 percentage points since May) and 57 percent think the economy is on the wrong track (up 1 percentage point). The percentage of respondents who expect their financial situation to remain the same over the next year dropped by 4 percentage points from last month to 42 percent, while only 18 percent say their household income has improved (also down 4 percentage points).

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