More Americans upbeat about homebuying

WASHINGTON-April 9, 2012-According to Freddie Mae’s March 2012 consumer attitudinal National Housing Survey, more Americans may decide the time is right to but a home.

In tracking results from its monthly survey, Fannie Mae says an increasing number of Americans now expect home rental costs and home purchase prices to increase over the next year. Nearly half expect higher rental prices-the highest number recorded since monthly tracking began in June 2010 as 33 percent expect home prices to increase, up five percentage points since last month and the highest percentage recorded in over a year.

In addition, confidence in consumers’ views of their own finances is stabilizing. For three straight months, 44 percent of respondents have said they expect their personal finances to get better over the next year.

Taken together, these trends give Americans an increased sense of urgency to buy a home, said 73 percent of Americans surveyed in March, up from 70% in February.

“With an increasing share of consumers expecting higher mortgage rates and home prices over the next 12 months, some may feel that renting is becoming more costly and that homeownership is a more compelling housing choice,” says Doug Duncan, vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae.

Survey highlights

Homeownership and renting

  • Thirty-three percent of respondents expect home prices to increase over the next 12 months, a five-percentage point increase from last month and the highest level over the past 12 months.
  • On average, Americans expect home prices to increase by 0.9 percent over the next 12 months (up slightly since last month).
  • Thirty-nine percent of Americans say that mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months, a five-percentage point increase from last month.
  • The percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to buy rose by three points to 73 percent, the highest level in over a year, while the percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to sell rose one point to 14 percent this month.
  • On average, respondents expect home rental prices to increase by 4.1 percent over the next 12 months, a significant increase since February, and the highest number recorded to date.
  • Forty-eight of respondents think that home rental prices will go up, a three percentage point increase from last month and the highest number recorded to date.
  • sixty-six percent of respondents say they would buy their next home if they were going to move, up one point since last month, while 30 percent say they would rent, up one point versus last month.

The economy and household finances

  • The rise in confidence in the economy’s direction leveled this month, with 35 percent responding that they think the economy is on the right track, consistent with February’s total. The percentage who say the economy is on the wrong track rose slightly from 57 percent to 58 percent.
  • Only 12 percent think that their personal financial situation will worsen in the next 12 months, consistent with February as the lowest value in over a year and tied with January 2011 for the lowest to date.
  • Twenty-one percent of respondents say their income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago, up 1 point versus February, while 63 percent say it has stayed the same- consistent with February’s values.
  • Thirty-four percent say thier expenses have increased significantly over the past 12 months ( a slight increase of one percentage point).

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