Consumers Increasingly Sour on Economy, Blame Inflation
WASHINGTON, DC – The Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTCQB) Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) remained largely flat in October, as consumer frustration toward housing unaffordability and an economy battling inflation continues to depress overall sentiment. Despite improvement in the share of consumers expressing greater job security and improved household income, 78% of respondents believe the economy is on the “wrong track,” up 7 percentage points from last month, with the vast majority once again pointing to inflation as the top reason for that belief. This month, a survey-record 85% of consumers indicated that it’s a “bad time” to buy a home, with most respondents citing high home prices and high mortgage rates as the primary reasons. By comparison, only 37% believe it’s a “bad time” to sell a home. Overall, the full index is up 8.2 points from its all-time low last year.
“Consumers expressed even greater pessimism toward the larger economy this month, in addition to their ongoing frustration with the housing market,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Via our October National Housing Survey®, 78% of respondents told us the economy is on the ‘wrong track’ – up from 71% last month – and they overwhelmingly cited inflation as the primary reason why. Across all income groups, inflation has consistently driven the ‘wrong track’ belief since the end of last year, suggesting consumers are fed up with the high prices of many goods and services. Although the labor market is strong and wages have risen in the past year, consumers may believe that their purchasing power has not kept up with prices, as 69% of consumers say their incomes are ‘about the same’ compared to the previous year. We expect this tightness in household finances, along with high home prices and elevated mortgage rates, to prolong the affordability challenges facing many would-be homebuyers.”
Home Purchase Sentiment Index – Component Highlights
Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) increased in October by 0.4 points to 64.9. The HPSI is up 8.2 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 16% to 15%, while the percentage who say it is a bad time to buy increased from 84% to 85%. As a result, the net share of those who say it is a good time to buy decreased 2 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 remained unchanged at 63%, while the percentage who say it’s a bad time to sell remained unchanged at 37%. As a result, the net share of those who say it is a good time to sell remained unchanged month over month.
- Home Price Expectations: The percentage of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months decreased from 42% to 40%, while the percentage who say home prices will go down remained unchanged at 23%. The share who home prices will stay the same increased from 35% to 36%. As a result, the net share of those who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months decreased 2 percentage points month over month.
- Mortgage Rate Expectations: The percentage of respondents who say mortgage rates will go down in the next 12 months decreased from 17% to 16%, while the percentage who expect mortgage rates to go up increased from 46% to 47%. The share who think mortgage rates will stay the same decreased from 37% to 36%. As a result, the net share of those who say mortgage rates will go down over the next 12 months decreased 1 percentage point month over month.
- Job Loss Concern: The percentage of respondents who say they are not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months increased from 75% to 78%, while the percentage who say they are concerned decreased from 23% to 21%. As a result, the net share of those who say they are not concerned about losing their job increased 5 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 increased from 18% to 20%, while the percentage who say their household income is significantly lower decreased from 13% to 10%. The percentage who say their household income is about the same increased from 68% to 69%. As a result, the net share of those who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago increased 5 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 National Housing Survey (NHS) is a monthly attitudinal survey, launched in 2010, which polls the adult general population of the United States to assess their attitudes toward owning and renting a home, purchase and rental prices, household finances, and overall confidence in the economy. Each respondent is asked more than 100 questions, making the NHS one of the most detailed attitudinal longitudinal surveys of its kind, 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). 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 October 2023 National Housing Survey was conducted between October 1, 2023 and October 19, 2023. Most of the data collection occurred during the first two weeks of this period. The latest was conducted exclusively through AmeriSpeak®, NORC at the University of Chicago’s probability-based panel, on behalf of PSB Insights and in coordination with Fannie Mae. Calculations are made using unrounded and weighted respondent level data to help ensure precision in NHS results from wave to wave. As a result, minor differences in calculated data (summarized results, net calculations, etc.) of up to 1 percentage point may occur due to rounding.
Detailed HPSI & NHS Findings
For detailed findings from the 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 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.
About Fannie Mae
Fannie Mae advances equitable and sustainable access to homeownership and quality, affordable rental housing for millions of people across America. We enable the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and drive responsible innovation to make homebuying and renting easier, fairer, and more accessible. 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, including assumptions about the duration and magnitude of shutdowns and social distancing, 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.