American consumers grew increasingly positive in July, according to results in Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey.
Undeterred by rising mortgage rates, the majority of consumers polled expressed belief that the market will continue to improve, with 53 percent saying they expect home prices will go up in the next year—though that figure does represent a decline of 4 percentage points from June’s high. The percentage of those expecting prices to drop fell to a survey low of 6 percent.
The average home price change expectation over the next 12 months increased slightly to 3.9 percent, matching the survey high first achieved in May.
At the same time, the steady rise in mortgage interest rates over the past several months didn’t go unnoticed. The share of respondents who believe interest rates will continue to rise over the next year increased another 5 percentage points over June to a new survey high of 62 percent.
Perhaps motivated by ongoing gains in interest rates and home prices, 74 percent of respondents said now is a good time to buy a home (up from 72 percent in June), while the share of those saying it’s a good time to sell increased to 40 percent, matching May’s survey high.
“Consumers have taken the interest rate rise in stride. Expectations for continued improvement in housing persist, and sentiment toward the current buying and selling environment is back on track from its dip last month,” said Doug Duncan, SVP and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “These results are consistent with our own analysis of previous housing cycles, which finds that interest rates and home prices are not strongly correlated.”
Still, consumers find themselves stymied by a tight credit environment. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they believe it would be easy to get a home mortgage today, down 2 percentage points from June.
Americans offered lukewarm sentiments on economic topics. The share of those who said the economy is on the right track increased to 40 percent in July, while the share of those saying it’s on the wrong track fell a single point to 54 percent. At the same time, however, the share of people who expect their personal financial situation to improve over the next year fell 3 percentage points—resting at 43 percent.
As far as personal finances go, 26 percent of respondents said their household income is significantly higher than it was last year, unchanged from June’s record high. Meanwhile, 30 percent said their household expenses are significantly higher than they were a year ago, a decline of 6 percentage points.