Though the economic recovery has been slow, and many economists predict it will take more than a year for levels to return back to those seen before the recession, the national housing market has posted significant gains.
Strong improvements in home sales and prices have likely contributed to the confidence reported in the November National Housing Survey from Fannie Mae, which monitors consumer outlook on both economic and housing factors.
Data from the agency shows that an increased amount of consumers believe home prices will increase, as 37 percent of respondents agreed. The number of those polled who say prices will decrease also rose 4 percentage points, totaling 14 percent with these expectations. While economists have predicted higher home prices and mortgage rates, the latter has remained notably low, with averages for fixed-rate mortgage lingering near record-low levels seen in November.
"On the housing front, attitudes about the current selling environment continue to improve, with a significant increase in those saying it would be a good time to sell," said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae. "This growing confidence in a housing recovery, in addition to other factors, may reinforce growing consumer optimism regarding the improving direction of the general economy."
The most recent Primary Mortgage Market Survey from Freddie Mac revealed rates for 15- and 30-year fixed-rate mortgage have remained low, while the less-popular adjustable-rate mortgage options continue to post rates near those seen a year ago. Fannie Mae reports that 41 percent of those who responded say mortgage rates will likely increase within the next 12 months, up 4 percentage points from October. While affordability is prevalent in many housing markets nationwide, some economist credit strict lending standards with hindering additional sales.
Results from the survey also show that 51 percent of consumers said it would be easy to get a mortgage now, which is the highest reported since the survey began. This parallels predictions of looser lending restrictions in 2013.
According to the survey, 44 percent of participants reported believing that the economy is "on the right track," an increase from the month before. The amount of those who disagree, saying it's on the wrong track, slipped to 50 percent. The government-sponsored enterprise notes this as the smallest gap in survey history.
With many buyers and sellers seeming to agree the end of 2012 marks a great time to purchase and offload properties, housing activity should spur well into 2013. While winter is generally a slower season for real estate, high affordability offered by mortgage rates when paired with growing home prices may post figures unseen in previous winters.