Housing sentiment remains stuck in low-level plateauThe Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index reveals only 14% of consumers believe it’s a good time to buy a home, a new survey low. View the complete survey findings here.
WASHINGTON, DC – December 7, 2023 – The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) decreased 0.6 points in November, remaining within the bounds of the low-level plateau it established in the first half of 2023. Consumers’ perceptions of homebuying conditions remain overwhelmingly pessimistic, as only 14% of consumers believe it’s a good time to buy a home, a new survey low. Pluralities of respondents also continue to expect both home prices and mortgage rates to increase over the next 12 months. Overall, the full index is up 7.0 points compared to last year.
“Over the past year, the HPSI has plateaued at a low level, evidence of persistent consumer pessimism regarding the state of the housing market,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Looking back, consumer belief that it’s a ‘bad time to buy a home’ hit a survey high several times this year – including this month – and each time the pessimism could be attributed to high home prices and high mortgage rates. At the end of 2022, as mortgage rates approached 7%, a rate level not seen in over a decade, a plurality of consumers said they expected home prices to decrease; however, that optimism faded over the course of 2023. A significant majority of respondents have also continued to expect mortgage rates to increase or stay the same, though these expectations have tempered over the year. At the same time, consumers have expressed a reduced sense of financial security, with fewer respondents reporting household income growth over the year and a higher percentage saying their incomes remained the same.”
Duncan continued: “The combination of persistent affordability challenges and less rosy household finances remain the primary drivers of the low-level plateauing of housing sentiment. Even if mortgage rates decline over the next year, which we currently expect, it’s unlikely to meaningfully affect affordability. The lack of housing inventory is likely to remain a challenge for some time, and home purchase sentiment may continue to be suppressed as a result. As our forecast indicates, we believe it will be a couple years before homes sales return to more normal, pre-pandemic levels.”
About the ESR Group
Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group, led by Chief Economist Doug Duncan, studies current data, analyzes historical and emerging trends, and conducts surveys of consumer and mortgage lender groups to provide forecasts and analyses on the economy, housing, and mortgage markets. The ESR Group was awarded the prestigious 2022 Lawrence R. Klein Award for Blue Chip Forecast Accuracy based on the accuracy of its macroeconomic forecasts published over the 4-year period from 2018 to 2021.