Press Release

Housing Sentiment Continues Rapid Recovery as Mortgage Rates Remain Near Historic Lows

October 7, 2020
Eighty-three Percent of Survey Respondents Not Concerned About Losing Job in Next 12 Months, a Five Percentage Point Rise from August

WASHINGTON, DC – The Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTCQB) Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) increased 3.5 points in September to 81.0, rising for the second consecutive month and continuing the rebound from late spring. Three of the six HPSI components increased month over month, with consumers reporting a substantially more optimistic view of home-selling conditions, expected home price growth, and the labor market, but a more pessimistic view of homebuying conditions and mortgage rate expectations. Year over year, the HPSI is down 10.5 points.

“The HPSI has recovered more than half of the early pandemic-period decline, mirroring the strong home purchase activity of the past few months,” said Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Consumers’ home price expectations were up strongly this month, with high home prices playing an increasingly – though unsurprisingly – important role in driving both the increase in ‘good time to sell’ sentiment and the decline in ‘good time to buy’ sentiment. Going forward, we believe the wild card to be whether enough sellers enter the market to continue to meet the strong homebuying demand. The home purchase market requires the proper mix of home price growth and continued economic recovery to achieve sustainable levels of housing activity.”

Home Purchase Sentiment Index – Component Highlights
Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) increased in September by 3.5 points to 81.0. The HPSI is down 10.5 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 59% to 54%, while the percentage who say it is a bad time to buy increased from 35% to 38%. As a result, the net share of Americans who say it is a good time to buy decreased 8 percentage points.
  • Good/Bad Time to Sell: The percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to sell a home increased from 48% to 56%, while the percentage who say it’s a bad time to sell decreased from 44% to 38%. As a result, the net share of those who say it is a good time to sell increased 14 percentage points.
  • Home Price Expectations: The percentage of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months increased this month from 33% to 41%, while the percentage who said home prices will go down decreased from 26% to 17%. The share who think home prices will stay the same was unchanged at 34%. As a result, the net share of Americans who say home prices will go up increased 17 percentage points.
  • Mortgage Rate Expectations: The percentage of respondents who say mortgage rates will go down in the next 12 months decreased this month from 17% to 11%, while the percentage who expect mortgage rates to go up increased from 33% to 38%. The share who think mortgage rates will stay the same decreased from 45% to 44%. As a result, the net share of Americans who say mortgage rates will go down over the next 12 months decreased 11 percentage points.
  • Job Concerns: The percentage of respondents who say they are not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months increased from 78% to 83%, while the percentage who say they are concerned decreased from 22% to 16%. As a result, the net share of Americans who say they are not concerned about losing their job increased 11 percentage points.
  • Household Income: The percentage of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago decreased from 25% to 24%, while the percentage who say their household income is significantly lower increased from 16% to 17%. The percentage who say their household income is about the same remained unchanged at 59%. As a result, the net share of those who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago decreased 2 percentage points.

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 September 2020 National Housing Survey was conducted between September 1, 2020 and September 22, 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 September 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, 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.