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News Release
September 16, 2010
Fannie Mae's Latest Nationwide Survey Shows Consumers See Mixed Outlook for Housing

Majority of Americans Believe Home Prices Have Bottomed

Rents Expected to Increase More than Home Prices

Americans Remain Cautious, with Many Preferring to Rent Now and Buy Later

Mortgage Borrowers and Underwater Borrowers Are Less Discouraged About Homeownership, While Delinquent Borrowers and Renters Are More Pessimistic

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fannie Mae's latest national housing survey finds that most Americans believe the housing market has reached bottom, but they are more cautious about owning a home. Respondents to the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey believe that home prices will hold steady (47 percent) or increase (31 percent) over the next year, and that rental prices will stay the same (46 percent) or go up (39 percent). Across the general population, the average expected rise in rental prices is four times that of home prices (3.6 percent versus 0.9 percent).

Seventy percent of Americans think it is a good time to buy a house, compared with 64 percent in a similar survey conducted in January 2010. But 33 percent — up from 30 percent — of all respondents said they would be more likely to rent their next home if they were to move.

“Our survey shows that consumers see a mixed outlook for housing and homeownership,” said Doug Duncan, Vice President and Chief Economist, Fannie Mae. “These findings indicate a return to a more balanced and realistic approach toward housing. While this will likely weigh on the housing recovery in the near-term, it should, over time, help to build a stronger and healthier market focused on sustainable homeownership.”

“Although most Americans believe that home prices have bottomed, they are adopting a much more cautious approach toward buying,” Duncan continued. “Homeowners and renters alike continue to be wary of taking on risk, and they are less confident in the long-term outlook for housing.”

A majority of Americans (67 percent) continue to believe that housing is a safe investment; however, that number is down 16 percentage points from a similar survey conducted in 2003 — the largest drop by far among all investment types tracked since then. Delinquent borrowers and renters are notably more discouraged than mortgage borrowers and underwater borrowers about a home's safety as an investment and the appeal of buying versus renting. More than 70 percent of all respondents believe it will be harder for the next generation to buy a home, up three points from the beginning of the year.

The Fannie Mae National Housing Survey polled homeowners and renters between June 2010 and July 2010. Findings were compared to a similar survey conducted by Fannie Mae from December 2009 to January 2010 and released in April 2010, and a similar survey conducted in 2003.

OVERVIEW OF KEY FINDINGS

Consumers More Confident That Housing Market Has Bottomed, But Less Certain About the Future

The survey revealed that Americans are feeling increasingly more confident that the housing market has hit bottom, but they are less certain about the longer-term prospects for homeownership.

  • A large majority of Americans (78 percent) believe that home prices either will remain flat or go up over the next year, up five points from the beginning of the year. Forty-seven percent believe prices will hold steady, while 31 percent think they will go up. This is a notable shift from January 2010, when these numbers were 36 percent and 37 percent, respectively.
  • Thirty-nine percent think rental prices will increase over the next 12 months, while 46 percent said they will stay the same.
  • Consumers continue to believe it is a buyers' market; 70 percent said it is a good time to buy a house, up six points from January. However, 83 percent believe it is a bad time to sell a house.
  • A majority of Americans (67 percent) continue to believe that buying a home is a safe investment, although this is down three points since January and 16 points since 2003. Housing ranked second behind putting money into a savings or money market account (76 percent).
  • Fifty-four percent think it would be very difficult or somewhat difficult to get a home loan today, down six points since January. However, 71 percent of Americans think buying a home will be harder for the next generation, up three points since January.

 

Consumers Continue to Be Cautious in Housing Decisions

The survey showed that consumers are taking on less risk, and are more uncertain about owning versus renting.

  • The number of respondents who said they would be more likely to rent rather than buy their next home if they were going to move increased from 30 percent in January to 33 percent in July.
  • A majority of renters said they would be more likely to rent their next home if they were to move, increasing significantly from 54 percent in January to 60 percent in July, even though 69 percent of renters think it makes more sense to buy a home.
  • Twenty-two percent of mortgage borrowers said they have reduced their mortgage debt significantly in the last year, and 27 percent of the mortgage borrowers say they have reduced their non-mortgage debt significantly.

 

Views on Homeownership Diverge Among Sub-groups

The survey also found that mortgage borrowers and underwater mortgage borrowers are less discouraged about homeownership, but delinquent borrowers and renters are growing more pessimistic.

  • Mortgage borrowers (74 percent) and underwater borrowers (69 percent) are more likely to say owning a home is a safe investment than delinquent borrowers (57 percent) and renters (54 percent). However, this measure has fallen among all sub-groups since January, with delinquent borrowers and renters showing the largest declines, down eight and seven points, respectively.
  • Mortgage borrowers (83 percent) and underwater borrowers (77 percent) said they are more likely to buy in the future than rent — both groups increased two points from January.
  • The number of renters (37 percent) and delinquent borrowers (52 percent) who said they are more likely to buy in the future declined by seven and four points from January, respectively.

 

Economic and Housing Attitudes Among Minority Respondents

The survey showed a mix of optimism and concern among African-Americans and Hispanics as to how they think about the economy, their financial situations and abilities to obtain a mortgage.

  • Forty-eight percent of African-Americans and 36 percent of Hispanics believe the economy is on the right track, compared to just 30 percent of the general public.
  • Seventy-one percent of African-Americans and 58 percent of Hispanics expect their personal finances to get better over the next year, compared to 44 percent of the general public.
  • African-Americans (65 percent) and Hispanics (72 percent) believe that obtaining a home mortgage today would be difficult, compared to 54 percent of the general public.
  • African-Americans (75 percent) and Hispanics (76 percent) both still believe that owning a home is a good way to build up wealth that can be passed along to their families, compared to 58 percent of the general population.

 

A fact sheet containing a complete set of the survey's key findings can be found at: Fannie Mae National Housing Survey Fact Sheet.

Survey Methodology

From June 12, 2010 — July 14, 2010, 3,399 telephone interviews were conducted with Americans aged 18 and older to assess their confidence in homeownership as an investment, the current state of their household finances, views on the U.S. housing finance system and overall confidence in the economy.

This included a random sample of 3,001 members of the general population, including 870 homeowners, 1,020 mortgage borrowers, 900 renters, and 289 underwater borrowers (those who report owing at least 5% more on their mortgage than their home is worth). The overall margin of error for the general population sample is +/- 1.79% and larger for sub-groups.

An additional oversample of 398 random national delinquent borrowers was also polled. The margin of error for the delinquent borrower oversample is +/- 4.91% and larger for sub-groups. Delinquency was defined as not having made a mortgage payment in the past 60 or more days.

Interviews were conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, in coordination with Fannie Mae.

For more information about the survey, visit http://www.fanniemae.com//portal/research-and-analysis/2010q2-housingsurvey.html .

Fannie Mae exists to expand affordable housing and bring global capital to local communities in order to serve the U.S. housing market. Fannie Mae has a federal charter and operates in America's secondary mortgage market to enhance the liquidity of the mortgage market by providing funds to mortgage bankers and other lenders so that they may lend to home buyers. Our job is to help those who house America.

Fannie Mae Resource Center Telephone 1-800-7FANNIE
(1-800-732-6643)