Economic worries still dragging down housing market, Fannie Mae says


Broad concerns about the sluggish economy are still holding back the housing market, according to a survey released Monday by Fannie Mae.

The lending giant’s monthly national housing survey found that 57% of Americans think the economy is heading in “the wrong direction,” and chief economist Doug Duncan said that’s keeping a lot of people on the home-buying sidelines.

“Consumers’ lukewarm expectations and reticence about the economy seem to be holding back housing demand,” Duncan said. “This year’s spring and summer buying season has gotten off to a slow start, even as mortgage rates have trended lower over the last two months. Our national housing survey data show that economic conditions continue to be the top concern among consumers who think it’s a bad time to buy or sell a home.”


The proportion of respondents to the phone survey who say they think home prices will go up over the next year fell to 48% in May from 50% in April. Meanwhile those who said home prices will go down increased to 7%, up two points from April, the lowest point in the four-year history of the survey.

A large majority of respondents -- 68% -- still think it’s a good time to buy a house, while the number of people who think it’s a good time to sell also continues to trend upward, hitting an all-time high of 43%.

Despite the good feelings about buying and selling, however, Duncan sees worries about the weak economy still dragging down sales. Fannie Mae continues to predict that sales volume for all of 2014 will lag behind last year.