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Consumer Rebound Continues in Fannie Survey

by Houston Agent

Consumer malaise may be a thing of the past, given the results of Fannie Mae's latest survey.

Fannie Mae yesterday released its National Housing Survey for January 2012, delivering data that confirms a slowly accumulating rise in consumer confidence and expectations.

Doug Duncan, the vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, said recent employment numbers, which were far better than initially expected, contributed to the survey’s optimistic findings.

“Consumer sentiment has continued to rebound to the level witnessed around a year ago since hitting a setback last summer,” Duncan said. “The strengthening employment picture from Feb. 3 provides encouragement that the improving trend in consumer confidence will continue and will at some point be reflected in a firming up of consumer spending.”

Regarding home prices, 28 percent of the 1,000 respondents that Fannie sampled expect their home values to increase (up from 26 percent in December), while 16 percent expect values to fall (down 2 percent from December) and 51 percent expect values will remain stagnant.

Only 8 percent of respondents felt that mortgage rates would go down in 2012, and an overwhelming 71 percent felt that it is still a good time to buy a home, which is the same amount from December. Only 10 percent felt it was a good time to sell a home.

The incorporation of rental units, though, produced some interesting results. 43 percent of respondents thought rental prices would go up, and 46 percent thought they would stay the same; regardless of the increases, though, 30 percent still said they would rent their next property, while 64 percent intended to buy.

In additional comments, Duncan said that consumer’s expectations of low rates may not reconcile with an improving job market.

“The Federal Reserve’s pledge to keep interest rates low beyond 2014, extending their prior time frame of mid-2013 announced in the summer, appears to have been reflected in the rising share of consumers expecting the rate to remain near record low levels for another year,” Duncan said. “At the same time, consumers expect home prices to rise over the next year, extending the streak of rising home price expectations to four months. If the employment market continues to strengthen, it is unlikely that the Fed will be able to keep its low interest pledge for long, and a more meaningful housing recovery may not be far behind if consumers are faced with the prospect of rising mortgage rates and home prices amid increased job security.”

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