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Americans' Outlook on Housing Hits a 'Plateau,' Fannie Mae Says

blogs.marketwatch.com | September 10, 2013

By Ruth Mantell

Americans’ outlook on the housing market’s rebound “has hit a plateau,” with rising mortgage rates cutting into their expectations, according to survey data released Monday by federally controlled mortgage buyer Fannie Mae FNMA.

As home prices and sales rose this year, Americans have had a sunnier outlook on the market. But last month, expectations for annual home-price growth slightly slowed down, and fewer respondents said it’s a good time to buy or sell a home.

“The spike in mortgage rates associated with the possibility that the Fed will begin to wind down its asset purchase program later this month has dampened the improving trend in consumer sentiment regarding housing witnessed in our survey since the start of this year,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist.

In August respondents to Fannie Mae’s survey said they expect home prices to rise 3.4% over the next 12 months, down half of a percentage point from the prior month’s annual forecast. Also, the share of respondents who said it was a good time to buy a home fell three points to 71%, while those who said it was a good time to sell dropped four points to 36%.

These attitudes are echoed in other housing-market data that show rising rates are curbing the housing market’s rebound. For example, since the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage started rising in early May (it’s increased more than one point in the last few months), the number of loan applications to buy a home dropped 15%, while the number of refinancing applications  plunged 63%. Indeed, Well Fargo WFC , one of the country’s leading home lenders, reportedly expects to originate fewer mortgages this quarter.

Still, rates are only one factor that consumers consider during a home-purchase decision. Their job stability, family expectations and prices are also key issues.

 

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