March 14, 2012 (Jeff Alan)

Consumer’s attitudes towards the economy continued to improve in February according to Fannie Mae’s February 2012 National Housing Survey while their attitudes towards personal finance, housing and employment remained worrisome but holding at steady levels.

On the economy, the percentage of respondents who said the economy was on the right track increased five percentage points from January to 35 percent, while those who felt the economy was headed in the wrong direction declined by six percentage points to 57 percent.

Less Americans feared losing their jobs in February than did in November as 76 percent of the respondents said they weren’t concerned about losing their jobs, up from 70 percent in November.

Consumers were still concerned about their financial situation in the coming year but seemed to show an improving attitude as only 12 percent of the respondents believed their financial situation would worsen over the next 12 months, the lowest level in a year. Forty-three percent felt their financial situation would not improve and would be about the same in a year, up slightly from last month.

Sixty-three percent of the respondents said that their income was at about the same level that it was a year ago while 33 percent said their expenses had increased significantly in the past year.

Americans were also a little less pessimistic about the housing market in this month’s survey as over half, 53 percent, said they expect home prices to stay the same during the next 12 months. Twenty-eight percent believe home prices will rise, which is up from a low of 18 percent last September while 15 percent said they believed home prices would fall over the next 12 months, down from 27 percent last August.

Only 10 percent of the respondents felt that mortgage rates would go down over the next 12 months while 50 percent expected mortgage rates to stay about the same.

Seventy percent of the respondents felt that now was a good time to buy a home. Almost just as many, 65 percent, said they would buy a home if they were going to move in the next year. Conversely, only 13 percent felt now was a good time to sell a home.

Doug Duncan, vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae, stated, “The pickup in the pace of hiring over the past few months has helped soothe consumer concerns, lifting their moods regarding their personal finances, the direction of the economy, and their views on the housing market. As a result, we’ve seen more potential for economic upside, creating a more balanced near-term outlook.”

Tags: Fannie Mae, national housing survey, economy, employment, income, home prices, mortgage rates

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