Results from Fannie Mae's April 2015 National Housing Survey show some improvement in housing sentiment, but likely not enough to trigger any breakout improvements in housing market activity this year.

Among those surveyed, the share saying they would prefer to buy a home if they were to move increased to 63% in April, following a drop of six percentage points in February and March.

“The spring and summer home buying season has gotten off to a stronger start, reflected in some of the improvement in consumer housing sentiment,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “The share of consumers who intend to own rather than rent their next home rebounded after a two-month slide. Meanwhile, home price growth expectations strengthened to the strongest pace since last October.

“Nevertheless, consumers continue to express concerns about the recent weakening economic conditions and high home prices. These combine to depress the share of consumers believing it is a good time to buy a home. When we consider both the continued caution of consumers and the positive start to the year, we believe that these results support our expectation that 2015 will be a year of modest growth in housing activity,” Duncan said.

In addition, average home price growth expectations continued their steady climb from late last year, with respondents now saying home prices will increase by 2.8% during the next 12 months. However, the share who believe this is a good time to buy a home decreased by four percentage points as consumer concerns regarding high home prices surged for a second consecutive month, matching renewed concerns regarding the state of the economy.

These data points as a whole mirror Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index (expected to be released this summer), which has remained largely flat since last fall, further suggesting that housing growth may remain subdued in 2015.

Below are some key findings.

On housing:

  • The average 12-month home price change expectation rose to 2.8%.
     
  • The share of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months fell to 46%. The share who say home prices will go down fell to 7%.
     
  • The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months stayed constant at 52%.
     
  • Those who say it is a good time to buy a house fell to 63%, while those who say it is a good time to sell remained at 46% – tying last month’s survey high.
     
  • The average 12-month rental price change expectation rose to 4.1%.
     
  • The percentage of respondents who expect home rental prices to go up rose to 54%.
     
  • Those who think it would be easy to get a home mortgage increased by 2 percentage points to 52%, while those who think it would be difficult remained at 46%.
     
  • The share who say they would buy if they were going to move rose 3 percentage points to 63%, while the share who would rent fell to 32%.

On the economy and household finance: 

  • The share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track decreased by 1 percentage point to 42%, while those who say the economy is on the wrong track rose by 1 percentage point to 49%.
     
  • The percentage of respondents who expect their personal financial situation to get worse over the next 12 months fell to 10% – matching the survey low.
     
  • The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago rose 2 percentage points to 24%.
     
  • A new survey low, 29% of respondents say their household expenses are significantly higher than they were 12 months ago. A survey high, 60% say their expenses are the same.