Consumers’ views on home prices remain at record high | South Salem NY Real Estate

Home price expectations remained at a high in March, with almost half expecting an increase in the next year, according to data released Monday by government controlled mortgage buyer Fannie Mae.

The share of respondents who said home prices will increase in the next 12 months remained at 48% in March, matching February’s record high, according to Fannie

/quotes/zigman/226360 /quotes/nls/fnma FNMA . That share is up from 35% in March 2012. The data go back to June 2010, so after the housing bubble burst. The average 12-month home price change expectation fell slightly to 2.7%.

“Despite an uptick in concern expressed about the direction of the economy, it appears consumers believe that the housing recovery will march on,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, in a statement.

Another 37% of respondents said they expect prices to stay in the same in the coming year, while 10% expect prices to decline. Fannie’s poll included 1,004 Americans, and was conducted between March 2 and March 25.

Consumers’ upbeat views on housing prices follow months of positive news on the housing market. Year-over-year prices have been gaining since mid-2012, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index that follows 20 cities. Despite recent gains, home prices remain about one-third below bubble peaks.

However, when it comes to their personal finances and the economy, Americans remain concerned. According to Fannie Mae, the share of respondents who said the economy is on the right track fell three percentage points to 35% in March from 38% in February. Meanwhile, those expecting their personal-financial situation to worsen over the next 12 months rose four percentage points to 21% from 17%. These findings echo a recent report on consumer confidence that found gloomier expectations among respondents.

Why aren’t views on personal finances keeping pace with expectations for home prices? The answer may be found in wealth effects, which track increased spending from those who feel more confident given sustained asset-price gains.

“There is a growing understanding that households respond differently to wealth gains that are simply recover­ing from past losses, as opposed to gains that lift wealth to new highs. The former results in more muted wealth effects,” wrote Beata Caranci, deputy chief economist at TD Economics, in a Monday research note.

–Ruth Mantell

Read The Tell on Twitter @thetellblog

Read Ruth on Twitter @ruthmantell

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