The optimism expressed by consumers toward the economy and the housing market at the beginning of the year has stalled as consumers' attitudes toward personal finances and wage growth have taken a step backward, according to Fannie Mae's March 2015 Housing Survey released Tuesday. Whereas February's survey showed that consumer optimism toward the economy was at an all-time high, March's survey painted a different picture. Lackluster job gains and income growth reported for March by the Bureau of Labor Statistics may have been factors in the shift in consumer sentiment.
The share of respondents in Fannie Mae's March survey who said they believed the economy was on the right track fell by 4 percentage points down to 43 percent after hitting an all-time high of 47 percent in February. The percentage of respondents who said they expect their personal finance situation to get better in the next month dropped for the second month in a row, this time by five percentage points down to 41 percent. One high point for the survey was the percentage who said now is a good time to sell a house, which reached an all-time survey high of 46 percent.
Foreclosure starts dropped off by 15 percent, according to Black Knight Financial Services' 2015 Mortgage Monitor released earlier this week, almost reversing the spike they experienced in January – indicating that foreclosure starts may be leveling off and even nearing pre-recession numbers. While more than 94 thousand foreclosure starts were reported for January, that number sank to slightly less than 80 thousand for February, a drop of more than 15 percent and the third lowest monthly total for foreclosure starts since August 2006 – before the housing crisis.