Consumer attitudes toward housing and the economy brightened modestly in September, starting the fall season off on a positive note after a tumultuous summer.
According to results from Fannie Mae's September 2014 National Housing Survey, Americans' optimism about the housing market recovered last month following declines in both July and August, with the share of respondents saying now is a good time to buy a home jumping 4 percentage points to 68 percent.
The share of consumers saying they would purchase a home if they were going to move also picked up, increasing 2 percentage points to 66 percent after August's three-point drop.
Meanwhile, home price expectations saw a slight improvement: 45 percent of respondents expect prices to rise in the next year, up from 42 percent in August and July, with the average price change expectation edging up to 2.2 percent.
"The September National Housing Survey shows a slight recovery in consumer housing sentiment after a two-month setback, bringing us back to the modestly positive trend we've seen over the last year," said Doug Duncan, SVP and chief economist at Fannie Mae.
While admitting "[i]t might be too late to save this year's home sales from posting the first decline in five years," Duncan added that "the return to an upward trend in housing sentiment, combined with this month's positive news on the jobs front, suggests that a broad-based, albeit measured, housing recovery is on track to resume in 2015."
Attitudes also improved about the economy in general. According to Fannie Mae, 40 percent of respondents in the September survey said they believe the economy is on the right track, up 5 percentage points from August. Still, more than half—54 percent—insist the economy is on the wrong track, down only 2 percentage points.
Offering insights on their own personal financial situation, a quarter of those surveyed said their household income has increased significantly in the last year, up from 23 percent in August but down from 28 percent as recently as July. Meanwhile, 37 percent said their expenses are significantly higher, up from 36 percent in the prior two months.
Projecting ahead, 41 percent of Americans said they anticipate their situation will improve in the next 12 months, down from 44 percent in the previous survey. At the same time, fewer expect their situation will worsen—12 percent compared to August's 14 percent.
"The results of the past few months show that consumer optimism remains cautious and somewhat volatile, and we'll likely continue to see bumps on the housing recovery path reflected in our survey results," Duncan said.