Economic Fears Drive Homeowners’ Spending: Wells

Fear of unemployment and the state of the job market influences homeowners the most when it comes to managing finances, according to a quarterly survey of US homeowners by Wells Fargo (WFC). The survey results indicate homeowners are doing what they can to navigate the choppy financial waters. For example, 30% of those surveyed paid down debt in the past year and 25% say they’ve learned how to better manage their budget. “It’s encouraging to know there are many homeowners trying to manage the factors they can control — like spending, budgeting and handling their personal debt — especially when they’re unsure about the economy,” says Jamie Moldafsky, of the Wells Fargo Home Equity Group, in a corporate release. In another sign that homeowners could make a long-term change in spending habits, 77% of those who purchase only what they need plan to do so from now on. But when Wells Fargo asked homeowners how they managed their personal finances, 38% said they made no significant changes over the last year, claiming they have no need. “Homeowners are worried about their jobs and debt is still historically high, however many people may not be making the necessary changes to improve their finances,” Moldafsky said. The findings may seem elementary, but the survey makes an important link echoing the July securitization report from Deutsche Bank that tied the flood of unemployment to rising delinquencies and, ultimately, deteriorating home prices. US unemployment recently hovered around 9.5%, the highest since the early 1980s. More reports show signs linking unemployment concerns and the rise of delinquencies is not simply a US phenomenon. Recent Moody’s research drew a direct line between job losses and climbing Dutch RMBS delinquency rates. According to one economist, households shudder under financial stress as a termination forces the rise of personal insolvencies. Write to Jon Prior.

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