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Rising rates fail to spoil the housing parade

Fannie Mae: Consumers remain confident about housing

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So you thought rising mortgage rates would undermine the housing recovery?

Think again. A new survey of 1,000 consumers found a majority still believe it's a good time to buy a home, despite rising mortgage rates and escalating home prices.

At least that’s the conclusion Fannie Mae reached after conducting its July 2013 National Housing Survey.

The number of respondents who said interest rates will rise in the next year shot up 5 percentage points from the June survey, with 62% of participants expecting higher rates.

Still, the higher rates had little impact on consumers' overall perception of the market.

While they expect home prices to rise 3.9% on average over a 12-month period, 74% of respondents still believe it’s a good time to buy a home. Only 40% of those surveyed said it was a good time to sell a home. Still, that’s the highest seller-optimism level reached in the past two years.

"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, senior vice president 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."

A slight majority of survey respondents – roughly 53% – believe prices will rise in the next year, while only 6% expect to see further price deceleration.

But getting a mortgage remains a worry for many consumers. Only 45% of interviewed respondents believe it would be easy to obtain a mortgage in today’s environment, down 2 percentage points from last month’s survey.

Sixty-four percent claim they would buy a home if they had to move from their current location, which suggests with the right loan product, a pool of potential buyers definitely exists.

Yet, this moderate level of optimism contrasts somewhat with how consumers feel about their overall financial health.

Only 43% of those surveyed expect their personal financial situations to get better in the next year, down 3 percentage points from the last survey. The number of respondents who expect their incomes to rise remains unchanged at 26%.  

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