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Fannie Mae Releases National Housing Survey

According to the findings from Fannie Mae's new National Housing Survey, Americans are more cynical about the economy, home prices and household finances.

Residents of Main Street have had their fill of big banking scandals, misused tax payer bailout dollars and ineffective deficit-reduction discussions. The U.S.'s ongoing economic issues, combined with the burgeoning European debt crisis, make many Americans doubt a recovery is right around the corner, no matter how many times Ben Bernanke says it.

(And, by the way, just what exactly is "moderate growth?" Is that the difference between a "growing" economy and nothing?)

"The degree to which consumer attitudes appear to be sensitive to global events is interesting, and seems to be reflected in their view of the economy and their growing overall pessimism," says Doug Duncan, vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae. "I believe the public was looking at the U.S. debt, deficit and the ensuing political struggle with one eye, and looking at Europe and their sovereign debt issues with the other eye, and saying: 'This is not what we want'."

Duncan is right: Americans are fed up with the current path we're on. Most Americans â€" 78 percent, in fact â€" believe the economy is going in the wrong direction. That's not surprising, considering the volatility of the stock market and indecisiveness of our government as of late.

Here are some other findings:

  • Many National Housing Survey respondents expect home prices to decline over the next year.
  • Only 9 percent of those polled think now is a good time to sell a home.
  • More than 20 percent of people expect their personal financial situation to deteriorate in the next year.
  • Some 41 percent reported significantly higher expenses when compared to their situation a year ago.
A deeper look into the study reveals a bit of good news:
  • While 27 percent of Americans polled think home prices will decrease over the next year, almost half â€" 49 percent, in fact â€" think prices will stay the same. Stagnant home prices might not be as good as increasing values, but it's a whole lot better than falling home prices. This prediction suggests people might see some light at the end of the tunnel even if it is years away.
  • More people's income increased rather than decreased over the past year.
  • 35 percent of those polled believe their personal financial situation will improve over the next 12 months.
  • And even though those on Main Street don't expect home sales to rebound, they do see good things ahead for the rental market: a whopping 46 percent of respondents believe rental prices will increase in the next year.
With the European debt crisis still looming and threatening to corrupt our markets at home, we'll take whatever modicum of good news we can get. Things might not be getting better as fast as we'd like, but it seems that, for now, some Americans feel they've stopped getting worse.

Have we finally, four years after real estate industry experts and economists began to predict it, finally hit the bottom of the cycle? What are you seeing in your market?

More on MoneyWatch:

Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.comand The Equifax Personal Finance Blog, and is Chief Content Strategist at, a community for real estate investors.
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