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WASHINGTON, DC-To the extent that single-family home trends are a bellwether for commercial real estate (and after the recent economic unpleasantness, who could argue?) Fannie Mae’s January 2013 National Housing Survey provides some good news for both sectors.
Some 23% of respondents to the GSE’s survey think that now is a good time to sell, up from 11% last year. “The housing market continues to firm up, with consumer home-price expectations for both rental and ownership properties near the strongest levels we’ve seen in the survey’s two-and-a-half-year history,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, in a statement. “Concerns about job loss are waning as payrolls are growing,” he continues, “a trend that may give potential homebuyers more confidence that they can meet the financial obligation of homeownership.”
He thinks the growth in confidence might be based in two drivers: “First, homeowners see that home prices are improving,” he says.
“Second, the number of homeowners who are underwater is declining, reducing a barrier for those owners who need to sell their home in order to buy a new one.”
The survey comes just as Bloomberg releases the results of its Consumer Comfort Index, which supports the theory that on a macro basis confidence is creeping into the green zone: “The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index climbed to minus 36.3 in the period ended Feb. 3 from minus 37.5, which was the weakest since early October,” the report states. “The gain, reflecting advances by all three of the measure’s components, was the first in five weeks and within the margin of error of 3 percentage points.”
In an interview with GlobeSt.com, Fannie director of economics Orawin Velz says that commercial real estate will gain “from the spillover.” The confidence that comes from seeing your home’s value hike gives consumers the spirit to spend, a direct impact on the retail sector in addition to housing.
“The other factor is the balance sheet,” she continues. “Rising home prices help captial decisions, lending and investment.” Getting to this point in the recovery took so long in the housing sector and, she says, “the commercial sector can only take a little longer.”
She predicts the second half will be a lot more active than the first, given the mixed messages coming from the economic front, mixed messages surrounding the fiscal front. With the Tax Relief Act Deadline looming larger, “There’s no sense of clairty in that area.”
And while that lack of clarity weighs on the overall confidence level of consumers and businesses, Velz says that the second half will see a marked improvement and more volume in both arenas.
Other highlights of the survey included: •The average 12-month home price change expectation fell slightly from last month’s survey high to 2.4%.
• At 41%, the share of those surveyed who believe home prices will go up in the next 12 months decreased by 2 percentage points from December’s survey high, while the share who believe home prices will go down returned to the survey low of 10%.
• The percentage of those surveyed who think mortgage rates will go up decreased by 3 percentage points to 41%, while those who think they will go down dipped slightly to 7%.
• Twenty-three percent of respondents say it is a good time to sell a house, up by 12 percentage points year-over-year.
• At 3.7%, the average 12-month rental-price change expectation fell 0.9% from last month’s survey high.
• Fifty percent of those surveyed say home rental prices will go up in the next 12 months, a slight increase over December, and the highest level since the survey’s inception.
• The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move held steady at 65%.