Consumer Confidence in Housing Falls Again as COVID-19 Pandemic Surges
WASHINGTON, DC – The Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTCQB) Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) fell for the second straight month in December to 74.0, a 6.0 point decline from November. Five of the six HPSI components decreased month over month, and consumers reported a substantially more pessimistic view of homebuying and home-selling conditions, which drove the relatively large monthly change. Year over year, the HPSI is down 17.7 points.
"The HPSI declined for the second consecutive month and fell to its lowest level since May 2020, as consumers adjusted to the worsening COVID-19 conditions of the first few weeks of December – the survey collection period," said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. "Both the 'Good Time to Sell' and 'Good Time to Buy' components fell significantly, with respondents overwhelmingly noting the unfavourability of economic conditions. In particular, the sell-side component fell for the first time since April and by 18 points, reversing most of the increases of the past three months and implying to us that, at least temporarily, potential home sellers might wait to list their homes. If so, this could have the effect of perpetuating already-tight inventory levels and supporting additional (albeit lesser) home price growth, which could contribute to a further moderating of home sales."
Home Purchase Sentiment Index – Component Highlights
Fannie Mae's Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) fell in December by 6.0 points to 74.0. The HPSI is down 17.7 points compared to the same time last year. Read the full research report for additional information.
- Good/Bad Time to Buy: The percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to buy a home decreased from 57% to 52%, while the percentage who say it is a bad time to buy increased from 35% to 39%. As a result, the net share of Americans who say it is a good time to buy decreased 9 percentage points month over month.
- Good/Bad Time to Sell: The percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to sell a home decreased from 59% to 50%, while the percentage who say it’s a bad time to sell increased from 33% to 42%. As a result, the net share of those who say it is a good time to sell decreased 18 percentage points month over month.
- Home Price Expectations: The percentage of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months remained the same at 41%, while the percentage who say home prices will go down increased from 13% to 16%. The share who think home prices will stay the same decreased from 35% to 34%. As a result, the net share of Americans who say home prices will go up decreased 3 percentage points month over month.
- Mortgage Rate Expectations: The percentage of respondents who say mortgage rates will go down in the next 12 months remained the same at 8%, while the percentage who expect mortgage rates to go up also remained unchanged at 43%. The share who think mortgage rates will stay the same decreased from 40% to 39%. As a result, the net share of Americans who say mortgage rates will go down over the next 12 months remained unchanged month over month.
- Job Concerns: The percentage of respondents who say they are not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months decreased from 76% to 75%, while the percentage who say they are concerned increased from 24% to 25%. As a result, the net share of Americans who say they are not concerned about losing their job decreased 2 percentage points month over month.
- Household Income: The percentage of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago decreased from 24% to 20%, while the percentage who say their household income is significantly lower remained unchanged at 18%. The percentage who say their household income is about the same increased from 57% to 61%. As a result, the net share of those who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago decreased 4 percentage points month over month.
About Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index
The Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) distills information about consumers’ home purchase sentiment from Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey® (NHS) into a single number. The HPSI reflects consumers’ current views and forward-looking expectations of housing market conditions and complements existing data sources to inform housing-related analysis and decision making. The HPSI is constructed from answers to six NHS questions that solicit consumers’ evaluations of housing market conditions and address topics that are related to their home purchase decisions. The questions ask consumers whether they think that it is a good or bad time to buy or to sell a house, what direction they expect home prices and mortgage interest rates to move, how concerned they are about losing their jobs, and whether their incomes are higher than they were a year earlier.
About Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey
The most detailed consumer attitudinal survey of its kind, Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey (NHS) polled approximately 1,000 respondents via live telephone interview to assess their attitudes toward owning and renting a home, home and rental price changes, homeownership distress, the economy, household finances, and overall consumer confidence. Homeowners and renters are asked more than 100 questions used to track attitudinal shifts, six of which are used to construct the HPSI (findings are compared with the same survey conducted monthly beginning June 2010). As cell phones have become common and many households no longer have landline phones, the NHS contacts 70 percent of respondents via their cell phones (as of January 2018). For more information, please see the Technical Notes. Fannie Mae conducts this survey and shares monthly and quarterly results so that we may help industry partners and market participants target our collective efforts to support the housing market. The December 2020 National Housing Survey was conducted between December 1, 2020 and December 21, 2020. Most of the data collection occurred during the first two weeks of this period. Interviews were conducted by PSB, in coordination with Fannie Mae.
Detailed HPSI & NHS Findings
For detailed findings from the December 2020 Home Purchase Sentiment Index and National Housing Survey, as well as a brief HPSI overview and detailed white paper, technical notes on the NHS methodology, and questions asked of respondents associated with each monthly indicator, please visit the Surveys page on fanniemae.com. Also available on the site are in-depth special topic studies, which provide a detailed assessment of combined data results from three monthly studies of NHS results.
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About Fannie Mae
Fannie Mae helps make the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and affordable rental housing possible for millions of Americans. We partner with lenders to create housing opportunities for families across the country. We are driving positive changes in housing finance to make the home buying process easier, while reducing costs and risk. To learn more, visit:
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Opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, and other views of Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research (ESR) Group included in these materials should not be construed as indicating Fannie Mae's business prospects or expected results, are based on a number of assumptions, and are subject to change without notice. How this information affects Fannie Mae will depend on many factors. Although the ESR Group bases its opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, and other views on information it considers reliable, it does not guarantee that the information provided in these materials is accurate, current, or suitable for any particular purpose. Changes in the assumptions or the information underlying these views could produce materially different results. The analyses, opinions, estimates, forecasts, and other views published by the ESR Group represent the views of that group as of the date indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of Fannie Mae or its management.