Two-thirds of U.S. consumers think now is "a good time to buy a home", with 91% believing home values will rise or remain unchanged through 2014.
Conducted by Fannie Mae, the November National Housing Survey suggests strong housing demand and rising competition for homes.
For buyers making a move within the next 12 months, the best "deals" in housing may be the ones you find today.
Each month, Fannie Mae releases its National Housing Survey, a collection of consumer observations and expectations for the U.S. housing market.
The November 2013 survey shows respondents harboring healthy confidence in U.S. housing, and optimism for the next 12 months.
Since bottoming out two years ago, home values have shown steady recovery. In some U.S. markets, values are higher only slightly; New York City is one such market (except for its condos). In other markets, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, values are demonstrably higher.
On average, U.S. home value shave climbed close to 10 percent from one year ago and, in many cities, are within striking distance of last decade's peak.
All of this has not gone unnoticed.
Consumers have seen the speed at which values are rising, and recognize that a 2-year rally is likely to continue. 45 percent of Fannie Mae respondents said that they expect home prices to rise this year, an 8 percentage point increase from one year ago.
In addition, 64% believe that "now" is a good time to buy a home.
More on what consumers are thinking :
In addition, consumers expect rents to rise faster than home prices. Rents will rise 2.8 percent, consumers say, versus 2.5 percent for home prices.
This is notable because when rents rise, it shifts the Rent vs Buy discussion toward "Buy". And, with today's prevalence of low- and no-downpayment mortgages, including the FHA mortgage requiring a 3.5% downpayment and the no-money-down USDA mortgage, it's fairly simple to join the ranks of homeownership.
More buyers means more demand, which pushes home values higher.
It's no wonder that the U.S. housing supply remains near an all-time low. There are more potential buyers in today's market than the number of active home sellers, and that creates a "seller's market".
As demand exceeds supply, home values rise.
U.S. consumers expect more than rising home prices in 2014 -- they expect higher mortgage rates, too.
Nearly 60% of consumers think mortgage rates will climb between now and next year, which represents a sharp 17-percentage-point increase from the survey taken one year ago. Higher mortgage rates increase the cost of homeownership and can slow the pace of home sales.
For every 1 percentage point increase to mortgage rates, purchasing power slips 11%. If you could afford a loan of $400,000 at 4% mortgage rates, therefore, you can afford a loan of $356,000 at 5%.
Just three percent of consumers expect mortgage rates to drop in 2014.
The direction of next year's mortgage rates will be dictated by the health of the U.S. economy, the strength of the U.S. Dollar, and the Federal Reserve's various stimulus programs, including the mortgage-rate suppressing "QE3".
Via QE3, the Federal Reserve buys $40 billion of mortgage-backed bonds monthly, creating extra demand for a product for which there may otherwise be little demand.
Mortgage-backed bonds are the basis of most U.S. mortgage rates. As bond prices rise, mortgage rates drop. The reverse is also true -- when bond prices drop, mortgage rates rise. This is why the future of QE3 is so important to the future of the 30-year fixed rate mortgage.
If the Federal Reserve begins to reduce the size of QE3, demand for mortgage bonds will drop, causing mortgage rates to rise. Some analysts believe that, without QE3, mortgage rates would settle in the mid-5 percent range.
Today, 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates average less than 4.5% nationwide.
For 2014, U.S. consumers expect higher home prices, higher mortgage rates, and reduced support from the Federal Reserve. It's no wonder so many think now is "a great time to buy". Relative to next year, buying today looks like a good way to save money.
If you're among those prepping to purchase, consider moving up your time frame. Housing market sentiment can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Get a pre-approval and see how much home you can afford.
The process is quick and free, and there's no obligation to proceed with a mortgage.
The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.
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2015 Conforming, FHA, & VA Loan Limits
Mortgage loan limits for every U.S. county, as published by Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)