Housing sentiment remained volatile in March as consumers reporting that now is a good time to buy a home rose from the previous month, according to Fannie Mae's Home Purchase Sentiment Index.

The net share of consumers claiming it is a good time for a home purchase grew 10 percentage points to 32% from February to March, while the share claiming it's a good time to sell a home ticked up three percentage points to a survey high of 39% that was last seen in June 2017.

Those expecting home prices to increase over the next 12 months declined 2% from a year ago, while the share of consumers anticipating a rise in mortgage rates rose by eight percentage points.

Housing sentiment

"The HPSI's recent run of volatility continued in March, as it recovered last month's loss and remained within the five-point range of the past twelve months," Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, said in a press release.

"The primary driver of this month's increase was the sizable rise in the net share of consumers who think it's a good time to buy a home, which returned the indicator to its year-ago level. On the whole, a slight majority of consumers continue to express optimism regarding the overall direction of the economy," he said.

Consumers reporting their household income is significantly higher than the past 12 months grew six percentage points to 17% year-over-year in March. People not concerned about losing their jobs rose 1%.

Fannie's HPSI grew to 88.3 in March, up 3.8% from a year ago and 2.5% from February. The survey polls a nationally representative sample of 1,005 household decision makers aged 18 and older.

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