The report found that consumer attitudes toward selling stumbled last month, despite a recent flurry of optimistic projections about the U.S. housing market in general. In the past week, the National Association of Home Builders reported that more than half of builders it surveyed see 55+ housing as a solid endeavor, and Metrostudy reported that new starts should top 1.07 million by year’s end.
Despite these reports, however, overall seller confidence dropped by 7 percent in July, according to Fannie Mae. The report found that only 45 percent of Americans surveyed think it’s a good time to sell, and 61 percent‒‒an all-time low‒‒believe it’s a good time to buy.
Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s SVP and chief economist, said the dip comes as more consumers worry about personal finances and the direction of the economy. According to the report, the share of consumers saying the economy is on the wrong track rose by 3 percent, to 54, in July, and the number of people who expect their personal financial situations to improve over the next year fell to 44 percent. Meanwhile, 15 percent of those surveyed reported significantly lower income compared to 12 months ago, the first time this has been the case in three months.
“Deteriorating consumer assessments of income growth over the past year, as well as increased caution around the direction of the economy and personal financial expectations may be contributing to the pullback in sentiment,” Duncan said. “Still, it is premature to read too much into this month’s results. The survey was taken around the time of increased global turmoil.”
Fannie Mae’s survey was conducted amid talk of Greece’s potential default and China’s stock market plunge, Duncan said. China’s market has since improved and Greece’s situation, for now, has stabilized some. “Most of our key indicators are as strong or stronger than they were at this time last year,” he said.
This, he added, signals “an improving housing market this year.”
In more positive news, nearly half surveyed said they expect home prices to rise this year, and the percentage of people who said they’d buy if they were to move reached 65 percent in July, the report found. However, nearly a third reported significantly higher expenses around the home than they had a year ago. How exactly this will affect consumer behavior in the months ahead, Fannie Mae did not speculate.