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Consumers See Positive Housing Trends Heading Into Selling Season

APR 7, 2014 2:18pm ET
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Prospective homeowners are increasingly more optimistic, with 38% of respondents to Fannie Mae's March 2014 National Housing Survey saying it is a good time to sell a home, compared to 26% a year ago.

Similarly, the number of people who believe it would be easy to get a mortgage today increased to 52%, from 47% a year ago, which Fannie notes ties the survey's all-time high.

Personal finance attitudes also have improved, too, as only 12% of the survey participants expect their financial situation to worsen during the next 12 months—a significant drop from 21% last year. Meanwhile, the number of people who say their personal financial situation improved in 2013 "reached an all-time survey high of 40%."

Despite a recent month-to-month volatility that has softened the ongoing housing market recovery, the survey finds most of the survey indicators on consumer attitudes continuing to follow a positive trend that started in 2013 and "may portend a pickup in home buying and selling activity this spring."

Mortgage originations dropped to their lowest level in 14 years as of the end of February, but cash deals are keeping home sales volume afloat, according to a report from Black Knight Financial Services.

Despite "fits and starts," such as rising mortgage rates and a lack of supply that have dampened housing market momentum, several positive signs have emerged as the spring home buying season approaches compared with last year, said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae senior vice president and chief economist in a press release.

For example, consumers are more optimistic about getting a mortgage, he said. However, those who are pessimistic about buying or selling a home today "continue to say the economy is on the wrong track."

"Looking forward, we expect to see a pickup in economic growth later in the year, and this may boost the confidence of prospective buyers and sellers," he said.

The Fannie Mae National Housing Survey polls 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.

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