Consumer spending picked up in the third quarter, but housing and other big-ticket items failed to recapture American dollars during the three months ended Sept. 30, Fannie Mae said Thursday. The government-sponsored enterprise released its third-quarter national housing survey, which examines the attitudes of American consumers by conducting a monthly survey of citizens. The study gauges how Americans feel about their own finances, their prospects for homebuying and the overall economy. Doug Duncan, chief economist for Fannie Mae, said the economy picked up in the third quarter as consumers spent more on services. For the most part, they dug into savings to pay for personal services since disposable income fell for the quarter, Duncan said. Meanwhile, big-ticket items like new homes remained out of reach as more consumers indicated that they had concerns about finances and the overall state of the economy. "Knowing someone who has defaulted on their mortgage appears to be correlated with consumers being slightly more pessimistic about the direction of the economy, their finances, and their ability to obtain a mortgage," Duncan said. However, he added, this "does not materially correlate with their desire to own a home or their view that housing is a safe investment." According to the survey, 92% of the homeowners who reported knowing someone in default said owning a home still makes more sense than renting. About 67% of homeowners who know defaulters said buying a house is a safe investment, while only 39% of renters who know defaulters said they're likely to buy their next residence. About 6% of owners who know defaulters said they have seriously considered defaulting on their own mortgages. And 80% of homeowners and 74% of renters who know defaulters said the economy is going in the wrong direction, while 9% of owners and 21% of renters said they are stressed about their ability to make payments on debts. Write to Kerri Panchuk.