NEW YORK – Sept. 25, 2014 – Most Americans remain optimistic about the housing market. More than half – 53 percent – recently surveyed say they believe home prices will continue to rise within the next 12 months, according to Bankrate's September Financial Security Index, a survey of more than 1,000 adults about their personal finances.

But those expected home price rises didn't stretch to everyone: Those living in suburban and rural areas were more than twice as likely to say that prices would drop compared with urban dwellers. And while more than half expect prices to go up, 47 percent still have doubts.

"This may not be a great market, but it's a good market," says Jed Smith, managing director of quantitative research at the National Association of Realtors®. "Prices are still increasing. The market is just stabilizing." The median expected price increase among NAR's Realtor members for the next 12 months is 3.4 percent, Smith notes.

In the Bankrate.com survey, only 8 percent of respondents said they believed home prices would fall, while 31 percent said they felt prices would hold steady.

"If they are confident in the housing market, they are more likely to participate and maybe put in a bid that is closer to the asking price," says Greg McBride, Bankrate's chief financial analyst. "People in a lot of markets are getting close to the asking price, if not more."

Americans' overall optimism over home prices may stem from greater confidence over their personal finances. Americans are feeling more financially secure in their job security and net worth, according to the index. Twenty-six percent of Americans feel more secure about their jobs compared with a year ago, and 27 percent of respondents said their net worth is higher this year than last year.

"Housing is one of two things – the stock market being the other – that consumers look to as an indicator for whether things are headed in the right direction or the wrong direction," says McBride. "The expectation of continued home-price increases underscores an expectation for continued improvement in the job market, household finances, and the overall economy."

Source: "September 2014 Financial Security Index Charts," Bankrate.com (September 2014) and "Consumers Still Expect Rising Home Prices," Bankrate.com (September 2014)

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