Fannie Mae Housing Survey Hints at Renewed Interest in Homeownership

Consumer interest in homes may be returning, according to the results of Fannie's latest housing survey.

Shifting economic factors, including rising rents and competitive home prices, are contributing to a new level of consumer interest in homes, according to Fannie Mae’s March 2012 consumer attitudinal National Housing Survey.

Some of the survey’s key findings included: nearly half of respondents expect higher rental prices, the highest recorded number since Fannie began its monthly tracking operations in June 2010; 33 percent expect home values to increase in the next year, an increase of 5 percentage points from February; and, for the third straight month, consumers views on their own finances are stabilizing, with 44 percent believing that their finances will improve throughout the next year.

Doug Duncan, vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae, said that many of the consumer trends highlighted by the survey suggest a coming boon for housing.

“Conditions are coming together to encourage people to want to buy homes,” Duncan said. “Americans’ rental price expectations for the next year continue to rise, reaching their record high level for our survey this month. With an increasing share of consumers expecting higher mortgage rates and home prices over the next 12 months, some may feel that renting is becoming more costly and that homeownership is a more compelling housing choice.”

One of the more detailed consumer surveys of its kind, Fannie polled 1,003 Americans for the National Housing Survey and assessed their attitudes toward homeownership, mortgage rates and other economic issues through more than 100 questions.

Other survey results included additional information on homeownership and renting. Seventy-three percent of respondents said it was a good time to buy a home, a three percentage point increase from February that is the highest in more than a year. Thirty-nine percent expect mortgage rates to rise during the next 12 months. And, for the 48 percent of respondents who saw rental prices rising over the next year, they predicted an average increase of 4.1 percent, a significant increase from February that is the highest recorded increase in the survey’s history.

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