June 2012 National Housing Survey run by Fannie Mae brings a decent dose of good news to the otherwise embattled real estate market. High levels of mortgage foreclosures are still in the headlines a lot, as are short sales, both of which continue to dominate housing market reports from a host of cities across the country, depicting the overall weakness. Throw in the bumpy economic ride and the persistently alarming behavior of some large banks after their near demise just a few years ago and the reasons to feel uncomfortable about it all is real.
Yet, the 1,001 consumers polled in the Fannie Mae survey came out with a cautiously improving outlook for the housing market. They were asked about their opinion on being a homeowner or a renter, home loan interest rates, homeownership distress, the economy itself, household financial situation and overall consumer confidence. Let’s look then at some of the actual numbers on owning and renting.
35% said that residential real estate values will increase during the next 12 months. More specifically, the expectation is that they will on average go up 2% over the year. 73% believe that now is a good time to go out and purchase a property, equaling the previous record set since the survey was launched in June 2010. Only 15% think that selling in this housing environment makes sense. Here is the best news: 69% would go ahead and buy should they move, which is a 6% jump from the May’s figure, and signifies the highest point it has ever reached.
37% of the consumers predict that mortgage interest rates will inch up during the next 12 months. Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey produced a 3.62% interest rate for 30-year fixed on 7/5/2012. Even if they would do that, say to 4%, it’d still be totally cheap money, no matter from where it’s looked at.
On the rental side, 48% of those polled feel rents will increase in the following 12 months, with 5% favoring them dropping, and the hike is on average 4%. In addition, only 27% would rent now, a steep decrease from the previous month’s 32%. It’s actually an all-time low for this category.
These Fannie Mae survey numbers are encouraging for the real estate market. Consumer confidence in it is slowly shifting toward favorable, even with the economy still trying to find its groove and unemployment relatively high. But Americans are cautiously feeling better about one of the main building blocks of the economy and that’s important. Housing price levels are affordable now and mortgage interest rates scary low and when those two are dangled in front of confidence-gaining consumers, better things ought to be right around the corner.