Report: Consumers' Faith in Economy Slumps Even as Housing Recovery Strengthens

Americans' economic outlook is increasingly pessimistic, even with more positive housing indicators.

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An increasing number of Americans fear the economy is on the wrong track, despite improving housing market indicators and increased confidence in the real estate recovery, according to a new report.

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About 58 percent of Americans feel the economy is on the wrong track, the March Fannie Mae National Housing Survey found, up 5 percentage points from February. Consumers' outlook on their personal finances didn't fair much better. More than 20 percent of Americans said they expect their financial situation to get worse over the next year, up from 17 percent last month.

Consumers also reported rising expenses, with 32 percent experiencing "significantly higher" expenses compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, just 20 percent reported significantly higher incomes.

Still, despite growing economic pessimism among consumers, Americans are still fairly chipper about the housing recovery. Almost 50 percent of Americans believe home prices will go up over the next year, an all-time high for the report. In addition, more than a quarter of respondents said that now is a good time to sell a home, nearly twice the level seen this time last year and another survey high.

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"Despite an uptick in concern expressed about the direction of the economy, it appears consumers believe that the housing recovery will march on," Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, said in a released statement. "Housing sentiment remains unshaken from the highs of the last few months."

But while the housing recovery might "march on," it might not be as rapid as it has been in recent months. The 12-month home prices change forecast fell to 2.7 percent in March, down from almost 3 percent in February.

Consumers are also keeping a close on interest rates, with 46 percent expecting rates to rise over the next year—the highest since May 2011—and only 6 percent saying borrowing costs will drop.

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