The views of the financial elite — those with incomes above $75,000 and more than $50,000 in the stock market— improved even more. Of this group, 55 percent say it's a good time to invest in stocks, up 12 points from the November survey and the highest mark since March 2011.
The survey also found that some Americans are taking advantage of low mortgage rates, but some critical groups are not. The average mortgage rate among those respondents with a mortgage is 4.85 percent, but it's a far lower 4.07 percent for those who have refinanced in the past two years. Those who have not refinanced report a rate of 5.15 percent. And just 22 percent say they have refinanced.
The survey found the young, those under 35 years old, are less likely to have refinanced than older Americans; minorities have refinanced less than whites and the poor less than the wealthy. In fact, only 19 percent of those making less than $30,000 who have a mortgage say they have refinanced, compared with 31 percent of those earning more than $100,000.
Those wealthier Americans report an average mortgage rate of 4.58 percent, nearly a point lower than those who earn less $30,000 a year.
It's unclear why these groups have not refinanced. Some may be new entrants into the home market, and only recently bought their first home.
Some may not qualify to refinance because their homes are underwater, that is, their mortgages are worth more than their homes, or they have other financial troubles. Others just may not be aware that lower rates could be available.