Consumer Attitudes Toward Housing, Economy Improved In January

The number of Americans who believe it would be easy for them to get a mortgage increased by two percentage points to reach 52% in January, according to Fannie Mae's monthly National Housing Survey.

It was the first time in the survey's three-and-a-half-year history that the number of people who think it would be easy to get a mortgage crossed the 50% threshold, Fannie Mae reports. The monthly survey is conducted by telephone with 1,000 respondents.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans who think it would be difficult to get a mortgage dropped three percentage points to 45%.

Consumer attitudes toward the economy also improved, despite the gloomy job reports for December and January. The share of consumers who believe the economy is on the right track climbed eight percentage points to reach 39%, while the share who believe it's on the wrong track declined to 54%. Additionally, the share of respondents who expect their personal financial situation to improve in the next year increased to 44%, continuing an upward trend since November.

In addition, the share of people who say home prices will stay the same in the next 12 months increased seven percentage points to 45%, while the share who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months fell by six percentage points to 43%.

American consumers are also feeling more positive about interest rates: The number of consumers who say mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months decreased by two percentage points to 55%.

Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, says the ‘gradual upward trend’ in the number of people who think it is easier to get a mortgage during the last few months ‘bodes well for the housing recovery and may be contributing to this month's increase in consumers' intention to buy rather than rent their next home.’

‘The dip in overall home price expectations, though notable, is consistent with our view of moderating home price gains this year from a robust pace last year, while positive trends in perceptions about the economy and personal finances over the next year support our view of stronger growth in the broader economy," he adds.

Still, that optimism is not reflected in every survey metric – for example, the number of consumers who say it is a good time to buy a house decreased from last month, down two percentage points to 65%.

Those who say it is a good time to sell a house increased five percentage points from last month to 38%.

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