Consumer Confidence Picks Up: Is There Hope?

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Consumer confidence appears to have risen during the first quarter as consumers are making regular payments on their mortgages, according to Manilla.com.

The report examines the student, mortgage and auto loan debt of Manilla users as of April 1. This first quarter snapshot shows student and auto loans have both increased, while average mortgage balances have decreased since the fourth quarter of 2013, which could translate to a more stable economy.

Also See: Banks Are Making It Easier to Get a Mortgage

"With continued low interest rates for mortgages and a declining unemployment rate, more people are willing to buy homes, pursue education and purchase new cars, which is consistent with our user data," said Jim Schinella, CEO of Manilla.

The national average student loan balance was $14,578.48 at the end of the first quarter, compared to $14,411.07 at the close of the fourth quarter of 2013. However, the average loan payment this quarter is $122.85, which is slightly down when compared to last quarter's average payment of $131.76.

Also See: Grad School Student Debt Spikes: New America Foundation Student Loan Study

As of April 1, Manilla users were carrying an average of $148,603.92 in mortgage loans, compared to $148,960.99 as of January 1, 2014. Consumers are also paying 21% less in their monthly mortgage payments than last quarter, decreasing from $3,617.64 to $2,848.56.

Although the number of homes being sold has risen, the number of consumers choosing to remain as renters is increasing. Many Americans remain concerned about their financial security and are refraining from becoming homeowners. The homeownership rate slipped to 64.8% in the first quarter compared to 65.0 % a year ago and 65.2% in the previous quarter, which is the lowest level since the third quarter of 1995, according to the latest census data.

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