Government Shutdown and Debt Ceiling Debate a Real Downer on Consumer Economic and Housing Sentiment
WASHINGTON, DC – The recent U.S. federal government shutdown and the ongoing debt ceiling debate appear to have taken a toll on Americans’ outlook toward the economy and housing market, according to the Fannie Mae October 2013 National Housing Survey results. As the survey is conducted generally during the first three weeks of each month, the majority of respondents in October were surveyed during the government shutdown. Notably, the gap between the share of consumers who said the economy is on the wrong track and those who said it's on the right track widened from 16 percentage points in September to 40 percentage points in October – a record month-over-month change since the survey’s inception in 2010.
With regard to housing, the share of consumers who say it's a good time to buy a house declined to 65 percent – also an all-time survey low – and the share who say mortgage rates will go up in the next year fell 6 percentage points to 57 percent. However, while Americans’ housing sentiment may continue to slow during the next few months as the debt ceiling debate ramps up, it is not expected to derail the gradual healing in the housing market.
“Housing market sentiment has clearly suffered in the wake of the recent government shutdown and debt ceiling debate,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “In October, we saw attitudes toward both the economy and the current buying environment experience their largest one-month drops in the survey’s three-year history. While this decline in consumer optimism may portend a slowing of the housing recovery, supply constraint data suggest that we are likely to see continued positive growth in home prices. That being said, October’s survey results suggest that consumer attitudes are highly responsive to ongoing debate and decision-making in Washington. Three key budget and debt ceiling dates loom in December, January, and February. The handling of each will likely play a key role in determining the pace and timing of any recovery in consumer sentiment.”
Homeownership and Renting
- At 2.9 percent, the average 12-month home price change expectation continued to fall, decreasing 0.2 percent from last month.
- The share of people who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months fell by 6 percentage points to 46 percent, while those who say home prices will go down increased 4 percentage points to 10 percent.
- The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months fell 6 percentage points from last month to 57 percent.
- The share who say it is a good time to buy a house had the biggest ever one-month change, and fell to a survey low of 65 percent.
- The average 12-month rental price change expectation increased 1 percentage point to 4.4 percent, a 12-month survey high.
- Fifty-two percent of those surveyed say home rental prices will go up in the next 12 months, remaining at the same level from last month.
- Forty-six percent of respondents think it would be easy for them to get a home mortgage today, remaining steady since January.
- The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move increased slightly to 70 percent, a new survey high.
The Economy and Household Finances
- At 27 percent, the share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track fell 12 percentage points from September, which is the biggest monthly record change in the survey’s history.
- The share of people who said their personal financial situation would get worse in the next 12 months hit a survey high of 22 percent.
- The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago fell by 2 percentage points from September to 20 percent.
- At 34 percent, the share of respondents who say their household expenses are significantly higher than they were 12 months ago rose 1 percentage point from last month.
The most detailed consumer attitudinal survey of its kind, the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey polled 1,000 Americans 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 (findings are compared to the same survey conducted monthly beginning June 2010). 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 stabilize the housing market in the near-term, and provide support in the future.
For detailed findings from the October 2013 survey, as well as a podcast providing an audio synopsis of the survey results and technical notes on survey methodology and questions asked of respondents associated with each monthly indicator, please visit the Fannie Mae Monthly National Housing Survey page on fanniemae.com. Also available on the site are in-depth topic analyses, which provide a detailed assessment of combined data results from three monthly studies. The October 2013 Fannie Mae National Housing Survey was conducted between October 1, 2013 and October 22, 2013. Most of the data collection occurred during the first two weeks of this period. Interviews were conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, in coordination with Fannie Mae.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.
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