Consumers apparently haven’t gotten the memo that mortgage standards are tightening, if responses to Fannie Mae’s  January National Housing Survey are any indication.
Fifty-two percent of respondents in the company’s latest survey  said they think it would be easy to get a mortgage today, reflecting a climb of 2 percentage points. The number of consumers saying it would be difficult to obtain a loan fell 3 points, meanwhile, dropping to 45 percent.
“For the first time in the National Housing Survey’s three-and-a-half-year history, the share of respondents who said it is easy to get a mortgage surpassed the 50-percent mark,” said Doug Duncan, SVP and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “The gradual upward trend in this indicator 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 share of consumers who said they would buy if they moved climbed to an all-time survey high of 70 percent, while the share of those who would rent declined to an all-time low of 26 percent.
Respondents also seem reluctant to accept projections of rising mortgage rates over the year, with the share of those expecting increases dropping for the second straight month to 55 percent. Five percent said they expect rates to drop, up slightly from the December survey.
On the other hand, it appears more people have taken notice of reports of slowing home price gains. The share of consumers expecting home prices to increase in the next year fell 6 percentage points to 43 percent, while the share expecting prices to stay the same increased 7 percentage points to 45 percent.
The average 12-month home price change expectation was 2.0 percent, a dramatic decline from December’s prediction of 3.2 percent.
Duncan said that while the dip in price expectations was notable, it is “consistent with our view of moderating home price gains this year from a robust pace last year.”
Consumer attitudes about the economy also improved last month, even with disappointing employment data hanging over the country’s collective head. The share of consumers who believe the economy is on the right track climbed 8 percent points to 39 percent, while the share who said it’s on the wrong track fell to 54 percent.
Asked about their own personal financial situation, 44 percent of consumers expect things to improve (up from 42 percent in December), while only 14 percent said they’ll be worse off.