One of the most reliable bellwethers for real estate prospects has long been the direction of consumer moods—a times are getting better/times are getting worse polarity. In that department, residents who checked out the U.S. Consumer Sentiment indicators recently would have found the results less than encouraging. For the past few weeks, the outlook had registered a gradual drift toward pessimism.
The Devil’s in the Details
But as often proves to be the case, details matter. Looking closer, when it comes to real estate—specifically, the prospects home sellers may expect—the outlook is decidedly different. If home sellers happened to have come across reports of a major national poll released last Monday, chances are their own optimism would have improved considerably. The news came from quasi-governmental enterprise Fannie Mae’s monthly handiwork—the poll that produces the official Home Purchase Sentiment Index.
A Look at the Numbers
“Housing Sentiment Edges Upward as Reported Conditions Favor Sellers” was the title of Fannie’s press release. It couldn’t have targeted home sellers more directly. The results painted a picture of consumers who feel increasingly positive about home-selling conditions. January’s 1,000-person survey registered a 16% rise in optimism about whether now is a good time to sell a house. The details were some that prospective home sellers will be pleased to note:
- 52% say now is a good time to buy a home.
- 75% report they aren’t concerned about losing their job in the coming year.
- 57% say it’s a good time to sell a home (up from 50% in December).
- 64% say their household income has remained steady.
One of the specific responses was surprising—especially given recent reports (like that from The New York Times) of median home prices rising by 14% over the past year:
- Only 41% of consumers believe home prices will go up in the next 12 months.
If consumers remain largely unconcerned about price rises, that certainly augers well for home sellers. It’s also evidenced by the Times’ reporting of fast-moving home sales averaging just 27 days on the market: “a record low.” The improvement in Fannie Mae’s sentiment gauge is just one indicator that could prod potential home sellers into action. For a clear picture of how your own home might fare as this year’s peak selling season gets underway, call me for an in-depth, no-obligation report.