In ""Fannie Mae's latest housing survey"":http://www.fanniemae.com/resources/file/research/housingsurvey/pdf/nhs-monthly-data-020713.pdf, consumers maintained their expectation for growth in home and rent prices and also expressed more optimism toward the economy.[IMAGE]
The January 2013 survey found 41 percent of consumers believe homes prices will rise in the next 12 months, down from 43 percent in December, but up from 30 percent a year ago. The percentage of consumers who were pessimistic about home prices and believe they will go down fell to a survey low of 10 percent. On average, consumers believe prices will rise 2.4 percent in the next 12 months, down from 2.6 percent in December, but up from 1.2 percent a year ago.
As prices continue to climb, more consumers also said now is a good time to sell. The percentage rose to 23 percent in January, up from 21 percent in December and 11 percent a year ago. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of respondents believe now is a good time to buy.
Not surprisingly, consumers were also more eager to buy rather than rent, with 65 percent of respondents stating they would buy if they were going to move, while 30 percent said they would rent.
When it comes to rent, 50 percent of respondents said they believe home rental prices will rise in the next 12 months, up from 48 percent in December. Consumers expressed the view that rent prices will rise by an average of 3.7 percent in a 12-month period, down from the peak of 4.6 percent in December.[COLUMN_BREAK]
""The housing market continues to firm, with consumer home price expectations for both rental and ownership properties near the strongest levels that we've seen in the survey's two-and-a-half-year history,"" said Doug Duncan, SVP and chief economist at Fannie Mae.
In January, a smaller share of consumers also said they believe mortgage rates will go up. Forty-one percent of consumers said rates will rise in the next 12 months, down from 43 percent in December. The largest percentage-46 percent-said rates will stay the same.
More than half (53 percent) of respondents were pessimistic about the direction of the economy and said it's on the wrong track, but the figure is an improvement from 54 percent in December and 61 percent in January 2012. The percentage of respondents who said the economy is on the right track increased to 39 percent in January from 38 percent in December and 30 percent a year ago.
Consumers were more optimistic about their personal financial situation in January with 43 percent expecting their situation to improve over the next 12 months, up from 40 percent in December.
""Concerns about job loss are waning as payrolls are growing Ã¢â‚¬" a trend that may give potential homebuyers more confidence that they can meet the financial obligation of homeownership,"" Duncan said.
Compared to a year ago, 61 percent of respondents said their household income situation is unchanged, while 23 percent said their income has significantly improved, up from 21 percent a year ago. When it comes to living costs though, 38 percent said household expenses are significantly higher than 12 months ago, up slightly from 37 percent in December. Forty-nine percent said their household expenses are about the same.