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National Housing Survey

HPSI Dips as Consumers’ Pessimism Toward Homebuying Conditions Sets Survey Record

Gap Between Homebuying and Home-Selling Sentiment Continues to Widen

May 7, 2021

The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) decreased in April by 2.7 points to 79.0. Four of the HPSI’s six components decreased month over month, most notably the component related to home-buying conditions, which turned net negative for the first time in the survey’s history. This decline was offset in part by consumers’ ongoing optimism toward home-selling conditions, which continued its significant rise from this time last year and has nearly returned to its pre-pandemic peak. Year over year, the HPSI is up 16.0 points.

“April’s HPSI reading appears to have been acutely impacted by the ongoing lack of housing supply despite improving economic conditions,” said Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Consumer sentiment toward buying homes reached the lowest level in our survey’s ten-year history; unsurprisingly, respondents overwhelmingly cited the lack of supply and high home prices as primary reasons for their pessimism. The decrease in homebuying sentiment likely indicates that some consumers, potentially flush with savings – perhaps boosted in part by stimulus payments – may be attempting, but failing, to buy a home due to heightened competition for relatively few listed homes. Notably, consumers in the household income range of $50,000 to $100,000, a range inclusive of the Census Bureau’s reported median household income level, showed a particularly large decrease in overall housing sentiment, and we know that the housing market serving the affordable segment has been particularly competitive.”

Duncan continued, “Conversely, consumer positivity regarding home-selling conditions nearly matched its all-time high, demonstrating a large divergence in perceived conditions between sellers and buyers, as measured by the gap between the two components. As has become standard discourse in the housing industry recently, increasing the supply of homes for sale would certainly help bring balance to this strong seller’s market, but unfortunately the most recent data doesn’t suggest that inventory is likely to improve in the near future.”

On the right rail of this webpage, you will find a news release with highlights from the HPSI and National Housing Survey results, the latest Data Release highlighting the consumer attitudinal indicators, month-over-month key indicator data, an overview and white paper about the HPSI, technical notes providing in-depth information about the National Housing Survey methodology, the questionnaire used for the survey, and a comparative assessment of Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey and other consumer surveys.

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Click here for an archived list of Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey Monthly Indicators.

Opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, and other views of Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research (ESR) group or survey respondents 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 or survey respondents as of the date indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of Fannie Mae or its management.

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