Americans grew more pessimistic over job loss, the economy and home ownership in the second quarter of 2011, according to Fannie Mae's latest quarterly National Housing Survey, released Monday.
The survey of 3,002 adults found that 64% said they believed the economy is on the wrong track, a high for the survey since its inception at the beginning of last year. Pessimism grew in July, with Fannie Mae's monthly survey putting that number at 70%, with 23% saying the economy is heading in the right direction.
The survey found that 26% of American workers said they were concerned about losing their job in the next twelve months. 44% said household expenses had increased significantly during the past year. Employed Americans concerned about job loss are more likely than all employed Americans to say it is a bad time to buy a home and they are more likely to say they would rent their next home.
Among renters, more than 50% report living in single-family homes, and of those, only 23% said renting makes more sense than buying a home. Still, 53% said they would continue renting if they were going to move. 73% of single-family renters said they believed it would be difficult for them to get a home mortgage, with 33% citing their credit history as the biggest obstacle to getting a home mortgage (compared to 20% of multifamily renters). Compared to multifamily renters, single-family renters are younger and more likely to have children.
Among the total sample, 53% said they would find it hard to obtain a mortgage. That number slides up to 71% among all renters. Demographically, 51% of Generation X (age 35-44) said it would be difficult for them to get a home mortgage today, the number increases to 59% among Generation Y (age 18-34).
Twenty-six percent of mortgage borrowers said they are underwater, compared with 23% in the previous quarter.
Gen Y adults seem more optimistic, with 57% saying they expect their personal situation to improve over the next year. That compares with 42% among Gen X and 35% among Baby Boomers.
"Consumers are more cautious due to concerns over employment and household finances," said Doug Duncan, vp and chief economist at Fannie Mae. "As a result, consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of the economy, ground to a halt in the second quarter. Consumers are more hesitant to take on additional financial commitments, and a setback to confidence means a setback to the recovery of the housing market."
He added, "Survey data make clear the relationship between home purchase demand and concerns about the stability of employment. Dissatisfaction about the direction of the economy and related employment fears are damping demand to buy homes and slowing the recovery. People who believe owning is a better deal than renting are nonetheless planning to rent, at least until things improve it would seem."