Fannie Mae’s monthly Home Purchase Sentiment Index surveys Americans about the housing market, buying and selling a home, prices, mortgage rates, etc. According to the most recent release, consumers see stable conditions ahead. In fact, an 8 percent increase in the number of respondents who feel mortgage rates will go down over the next 12 months is an indication that prospective home buyers think affordability conditions are beginning to settle. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist, says optimism about mortgage rates has helped sentiment, though it depends on where you look. “Regional variations in housing optimism appear to be tied to a divergence in housing affordability; for example, home purchase sentiment is higher in the Midwest and South than in the West and, to a lesser extent, the Northeast, where the lack of entry-level inventory and the resultant strong price appreciation has had a more profound impact on affordability,” Duncan said. However, though affordability conditions will vary from location to location, declining mortgage rates have helped take the pressure off buyers everywhere, which is why the index remains near an all-time survey high. More here.