By Mia Lamar The Wall Street Journal
The consumer outlook for U.S. home prices improved again in January, extending a recent upward trend in housing market sentiment, according to mortgage market firm Fannie Mae.
For its monthly reading, Fannie Mae said respondents in its January survey predicted home prices will rise by 1% over the next year, up from the 0.8% gain forecast in December.
Views on the direction of the U.S. economy also continued to improve. According to the respondents, 30% said they believe the U.S. economy is on the right track, up from 22% with that view in December. The percentage who said the economy is headed in the wrong direction fell to 63% of respondents, marking a 6 percentage point decline from the previous month.
Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan pointed to a slowly improving U.S. job market as one cause for rising confidence in the long-battered housing market. ”The strengthening employment picture last Friday provides encouragement that the improving trend in consumer confidence will continue and will at some point be reflected in a firming up of consumer spending,” Duncan said.
A report last week from the U.S. Labor Department showed nonfarm payrolls grew 243,000 last month, the largest gain since April. The jobless rate fell from 8.5% to 8.3%, the lowest it has been since February 2009.
Fannie Mae’s January survey also found 44% of respondents expect their personal financial situation to improve over the next year, up from 40% with that view in December.
The survey is based upon a monthly poll of roughly 1,000 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%.