Recent reports are showing that consumers are changing their attitudes about the housing market, the recovery and homeownership in general. According to Fannie Mae, this shift is being boosted by the decline of mortgage rates that have occurred over the past several months. To match this report, Consumer Sentiment was also reported as increasing for the month of September.

Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey began in June of 2010. The September Survey shows that respondents expect home prices to increase approximately 1.5% during the next year, while those who feel mortgage rates will increase during the next 12 months dropped to 33%. Of the group, 19% said that this is a good time to sell while 69% said they would buy if they were moving.

Optimism amongst consumers showed in September with 41% saying that the economy is on the right track, up 8% from the previous month. This is the highest level reached since the survey began. Expectations of an improvement to their personal financial situation was up to 44% while those who said their household income is significantly higher than a year ago decreased by 3%. Those responding that their household expenses were higher than 12 months ago also increased to 34%.

At the same time, The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index also showed improvement in September and is at 70.3, a large increase from 61.3 in August. The Expectations Index was up to 83.7 from 71.1 in August while the Present Situation Index also rose to 50.2 from 46.6. Housing, decreasing mortgage rates and better employment reports are changing the attitudes of consumers for the better.

With housing prices on the rise in many areas and the unemployment rate down, many consumers are feeling hope that the economy is finally turning around. Many consumers have been able to obtain a mortgage refinance, sometimes more than once, at record low mortgage rates which has helped their own financial situation. Multiple mortgage programs have been available to help consumers who were underwater with their mortgages and unable to refinance. The update to HARP 2.0 brought many homeowners the opportunity to trade to lower rates that resulted lower monthly payments and, in effect, more money in their own pockets. By using HARP 2.0 to refinance, even extremely underwater borrowers are able to refinance since loan to value caps and the need of appraisals have both been removed from the program. Further, FHA mortgage holders have been given the opportunity to refinance to low FHA mortgage rates through the FHA streamline refinance program, without having high burdensome insurance fees. FHA enhanced the streamline refinance program with no cash out by reducing the upfront mortgage insurance premium to .01% and the annual mortgage insurance premium to .55%. This is another program where an appraisal is not necessary, but also does not require income and employment documentation.

Low mortgage rates and refinancing opportunities are responsible for relieving some borrowers from the financial burden of higher mortgage payments during a time of economic healing. Anything that saves consumers cash to use for other things is always likely to make them feel more optimistic about their personal financial situation and lifestyle. While it is hoped that this will continue, events around the world, which are being watched closely, can have an impact of the U.S. economy and, in particular, mortgage rates. To offset this occurrence, the Federal Reserve has opted to move forward with QE3 and the purchase of $40 billion in mortgage backed securities per month. With this effort, mortgage rates will be kept low giving more borrowers the opportunity to refinance or make a home purchase.

FreeRateUpdate.com surveys more than two dozen wholesale and direct lenders' rate sheets to determine the most accurate mortgage rates available to well qualified consumers at about a 1 point origination fee.

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