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Survey Reveals Less Than Optimistic Attitude Toward Housing, Economy

Fannie Mae National Housing SurveyAmericans' sentiment toward housing and the economy took a small backward step in November, according to survey results released Monday.

In its monthly National Housing Survey, Fannie Mae found attitudes about the current state of the housing market ranged from flat to pessimistic in November after an October marked by more hopeful responses.

"November's National Housing Survey results support the 2014 trend of gradual, but often sporadic and unspectacular, improvement across a range of indicators measuring consumer attitudes toward housing—mirroring the uneven recovery in housing activity this year," said Doug Duncan, SVP and chief economist at Fannie Mae.

In the year ahead, 44 percent of consumers polled in November's survey predicted further home price gains, flat from October, while 6 percent anticipated declines, down just slightly from the previous report. The average home price change expectation was 2.6 percent, turning down from 2.8 percent in October.

In response to recent trends in interest rates, the share of consumers predicting an increase in rates over the next year dropped to 45 percent, down from 48 percent in October and 59 percent a year ago, when rates were on the rise.

While interest rates may be trending in a more consumer-friendly direction, the current state of the credit market still has many Americans doubtful about their chances of getting a loan. Forty-eight percent of respondents in Fannie Mae's survey said they think it would be easy to get a mortgage today, remaining unchanged from the past few months. The share of those saying it would be difficult to get a mortgage was down from October but still elevated at 47 percent.

Overall, 62 percent of respondents said they would buy a home if they were to move today, down from 65 percent in October and 66 percent in September.

Opinions about the economy were mixed. While 46 percent of consumers expect their personal financial situation will improve over the next year—an increase from October—the number of respondents saying the economy is on the right track fell to just 36 percent.

Despite the apparent stumble in confidence, Fannie Mae said November's survey results support the company's forecast for a gradual housing market recovery in 2015.

"We expect consumer attitudes toward housing to improve as the pickup in the overall economy lifts employment and income prospects," Duncan said. "However, a sustained improvement in sentiment that could support a robust housing recovery, as policy support is removed, will require meaningful gains in household income.

"While such gains have so far been elusive, the strength in the November jobs report, which points to faster growth in labor income in the current quarter, marks a good start."

About Author: Tory Barringer

Tory Barringer began his journalism career in early 2011, working as a writer for the University of Texas at Arlington's student newspaper before joining the DS News team in 2012. In addition to contributing to DSNews.com, he is also the online editor for DS News' sister publication, MReport, which focuses on mortgage banking news.
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