Consumer attitudes improve in December

Americans’ attitudes on a variety of issues are marginally better than one month ago, according to results from Fannie Mae’s December National Housing Survey. Despite overall low levels of optimism among Americans, consumer sentiment trended in a positive direction in the final months of 2011.
Americans who say the economy is on the right track rose by 6 percentage points since November, while the percentage who say the economy is on the wrong track dropped by 6 percentage points. When asked about housing, more Americans expect home prices to to increase compared to November and, on average, Americans expect home prices to increase by 0.8 percent over the next year, up from an expected 0.2 percent increase last month.
Highlights of the survey include:
• Thirty-six percent of Americans say that mortgage rates will go up over the next 12 months, up 3 percentage points from November and was even with October.
• Seventy-one percent of respondents say it is a good time to buy a home (up 3 percentage points since last month), and 11 percent say it is a good time to sell.
• On average, Americans expect home rental prices to increase by 3.5 percent over the next 12 months, up from 3.2 percent in November.
• Five percent expect a decline in home rental prices over the next 12 months (tying May 2011 as the lowest point in the past 12 months), while 43 percent of respondents believe that home rental prices will increase.
• Thirty-one percent of Americans say they would rent their next home, while 64 percent say they would buy, up 1 percentage point from last month.