Mixed Trends for Economy, Housing

By Kirk Haverkamp,

Shutterstock photo

Consumers are showing some increased optimism about the direction of the housing market and their personal finances, but their overall view of the economy remains a mixed bag.

That's based on the newest Fannie Mae National Housing Survey, taken in January. The monthly survey found that while consumers believe that the market is getting somewhat better for home sellers and are feeling increasingly positive about their own financial situation, they also see their personal expenses rising and are a bit more pessimistic about the economy than they were a few months ago.

More expect prices to rise

According to the survey, 23 percent now think it's a good time to sell a home. While that's still a fairly low number, it's a significant increase from the 11 percent who thought so one year ago at this time. Meanwhile, the share who thinks it's a good time to buy remained at 69 percent, the same as January 2012.

Asked about the direction they expect home prices to take, 41 percent expect that home prices will rise over the next 12 months, up from 30 percent in one year ago. On the question of personal finances, 23 percent of adults said their household income has improved significantly from one year ago, up from 18 percent in August.

"The upward trend over the past year and a half in the share of consumers who say it's a good time to sell may reflect two related events," said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae chief economist." First, homeowners see that home prices are improving. Second, the number of homeowners who are underwater is declining, reducing a barrier for those owners who need to sell their home in order to buy a new one."

Duncan also said that growing payrolls seem to be reducing concerns over unemployment, which may give potential buyers more confidence that they can afford a home.

Concerns over economy, finances

At the same time, the survey also contained signs for concern. Only 39 percent of respondents said they think the economy is on the right track, up from 30 percent in January 2012 but down sharply from the 45 percent who felt that way in November.

Homeowners have also become more pessimistic about their personal financial outlook, with 19 percent saying they expect their finances to worsen over the next 12 months, up from 13 percent in October. The share of those who say their household expenses are significantly higher than they were one year ago has also been increasing since last summer, with 38 percent saying so in January, up from 32 percent in July.

The monthly survey polls over 1,000 U.S. adults to assess shifts in attitudes regarding home ownerships and the economy in general.

First published at: http://www.mortgageloan.com/mixed-trends-economy-housing-9358

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Personal Finance Banking and Loans
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