Special Topics Archive
Fannie Mae conducts and shares various types of research using our primary consumer data collected through the National Housing Survey® and other methods to help support the housing market and lay the foundation for a better housing finance system. Click here to view more recent research.
Impact of Digital Innovation on Lender Workforce, Now and Looking Forward
May 13, 2020
According to Fannie Mae's Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey, which surveyed nearly 200 senior executives in the first quarter, lenders who invested "a great deal of effort" in digital transformation reported more benefits, including an uptick in productivity, compared to other lenders.
Mortgage Lenders Weigh in on Customer Acquisition and Retention Strategies, Now and Looking Forward
February 4, 2020
Fannie Mae's Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey® (MLSS) captured feedback from nearly 200 senior mortgage executives to learn about how they plan to respond to challenges associated with their current and future customer-retention and customer-acquisition strategies.
Lenders Share Experiences with Front-End and Back-End Digital Transformation Investment
October 16, 2019
When investing in digital transformation, more lenders say they focus on improving the front-end consumer experience than back-end operational efficiency, according to Fannie Mae's Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey (MLSS). Additionally, lenders reported a higher success rate with front-end digital transformation efforts than back-end efforts.
Shopping Around for a Mortgage Pays Off for Consumers
August 5, 2019
Despite the sizable potential cost savings, more than one-third of 2018 homebuyers say they did not shop around before selecting their mortgage lender, according to our latest findings from the National Housing Survey. The good news is that two-thirds of homebuyers did comparison shop and, in turn, said they experienced more financially favorable terms than those who didn’t obtain multiple quotes.
Technological Investment Necessary in Evolving Mortgage Landscape, Lenders Say
July 18, 2019
Mortgage lenders continue to cite “consumer-facing technology” as the most important business priority to maintain competitiveness, according to Fannie Mae’s Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey (MLSS). Additionally, most lenders consider “online business-to-consumer lenders” as their biggest competitor, citing their advantages in technology.
Consumers Continue to Overestimate Mortgage Requirements
June 5, 2019
We’ve seen consistently in Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey that the vast majority of Americans prefer homeownership over renting a home. Despite increased exposure to credit scores and online resources, consumer understanding about what it takes to qualify for a mortgage has not improved since our original study in 2015, potentially discouraging willing and qualified Americans from taking steps toward homeownership.
Mortgage Lenders Look to Leverage New Technologies to Gain Competitive Advantages
April 22, 2019
Mortgage lenders view Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) as the top two technologies with the greatest potential to help improve or streamline processes, according to Fannie Mae’s Q1 2019 Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey (MLSS). Ease of technology integration was the most important criterion cited by lenders when deciding to adopt a third-party API.
Banks' Online Services Appreciated, but Big Tech Competitors Loom
February 5, 2019
While only a minority of Americans say they are "very likely" to recommend their bank, they tend to stay with them out of convenience and trust, according to respondents who participated in Fannie Mae’s third quarter 2018 National Housing Survey (NHS). The survey also found that tech companies, which are increasingly offering financial services to consumers, do not inspire much trust.
Lenders: A Shortage of Supply Slowed 2018 Home Sales and Worsened Affordability
January 30, 2019
An insufficient supply of homes available for sale was the top reason for the slow growth in home sales last year, according to lenders surveyed as part of Fannie Mae's Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey in the fourth quarter of 2018. The survey also found high home prices and an increase in mortgage rates to be notable factors behind the drop in sales activity.
How Will Artificial Intelligence Shape Mortgage Lending?
October 4, 2018
As part of its quarterly Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey, Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research Group (ESR) surveyed senior mortgage executives in August to better understand lenders' views about AI/ML technology and, specifically, to gauge their interest in various AI/ML application ideas.
Home – What It Means to Native American Families
September 27, 2018
When it comes to housing finance, Native Americans are considered one of the most underserved populations in the country. To better understand the unique cultural views on homeownership ... we conducted individual interviews with a small sample of lower-income Native Americans.
Now is the Time to Adopt Digital Mortgage Technology
August 28, 2018
Homebuyers have made it clear that it's time for the home purchasing and mortgage processes to change. Although the mortgage process is extremely complex and heavily regulated, digital experiences in other businesses have increased the demand for digital resources to speed up the onerous mortgage process.
Are Affordability Perceptions Reducing Household Mobility and Exacerbating the Housing Shortage?
June 27, 2018
Across the country, housing affordability continues to be a challenge as the supply of homes for sale or rent has not kept pace with demand. In order to gain insight on these issues, we used the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey to ask renters and owners: 1) whether their current home is affordable; 2) to assess their own perception of affordability trends where they live; and 3) what sort of trade-offs were made in purchasing or renting their home.
Cost Cutting Has Emerged as a Focus of Lender Competitiveness
June 21, 2018
In Fannie Mae's second quarter Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey, we asked mortgage executives to identify their top business priorities for 2018, the same question asked in the second quarter of last year.
Lack of Mortgage Focus Complicates Home Purchase: An Ethnographic Study Among Low- and Moderate-Income Households
May 24, 2018
In our prior research, consumers with fewer financial assets reported that the biggest barriers to homeownership were saving for the down payment and having insufficient credit history. The research also showed that many consumers were unaware of lenders' requirements or focused too heavily on the home search rather than the mortgage search. In a new study, we employed a more qualitative ethnographic approach to further interpret the survey findings: By following a small group of low- and moderate-income households over a period of months as they went through the mortgage process from start to finish, we gain additional insights into the home purchase struggles they face.
How Will the Gig Economy Shape Mortgage Lending?
May 16, 2018
On-demand gig economy services such as transportation, lodging, food delivery, and personal task services are growing and reshaping how we think about work and self-employment. We surveyed mortgage lenders to better understand the role of gig economy income in the mortgage underwriting process.
Consumers' Security Concerns a Barrier for Digital Identity
February 20, 2018
A standardized digital identify – an electronically verified set of attributes that uniquely describe a person – can improve, simplify, and accelerate identity-dependent transactions, including buying or renting a home. But given the growing number and severity of personal data breaches, consumers have significant concerns about the safety and security of digital identity. We recently surveyed U.S. consumers to learn about their perceptions of and comfort levels with digital financial identity.
Mortgage Data Initiatives: Setting the Stage for Digital Disruption
January 24, 2018
Digital innovation is disrupting almost every industry. The mortgage industry is no exception. Since mortgage processes involve transmitting large volumes of data among interconnected players, new initiatives have been rolled out to establish or update data standards/datasets, transmission protocols, and platforms across the industry. We surveyed senior mortgage executives in Q4 2017 to understand lenders' views and experiences with these data management and standardization initiatives.
More People Work in the Gig Economy Than You Might Think – and Many Want to Own Homes
December 5, 2017
The online, on-demand economy for services such as ride sharing, accommodation sharing, and others – known as the gig economy – is growing. We surveyed consumers through our Q3 2017 National Housing Survey to understand the extent of that growth and how it may impact attitudes towards homeownership.
As Lenders Digitize, Borrowers Still Want the "Human Touch"
October 30, 2017
We surveyed mortgage lenders to better understand their strategies and views regarding both digital and person-to-person customer service channels. The results show that lenders’ evolving channel focus might not be well-aligned with homebuyer preferences.
Lenders and Real Estate Agents Still Beat Online Sources as Top Mortgage Influencers… For Now
October 19, 2017
To better understand how both online and direct/personal sources of information influence the mortgage shopping experience, we surveyed recent homebuyers about their experiences with real estate agents, mortgage lenders, friends and family, and online resources such as mobile apps, websites, and social media.
Renters Report Future Home Buying Optimism, While Family Financial Assistance Is Most Available to Populations with Higher Homeownership Rates
September 28, 2017
According to our Q3 2016 National Housing Survey® special topic results, the vast majority of renters reported an expectation to buy a home someday, but nearly half saw the down payment as one of the biggest obstacles to getting a mortgage. We set out to better understand these results, as well as the role of family financial assistance in first-time home buying.
Mortgage Lenders Shift Focus to Enhancing the Consumer Experience
August 23, 2017
In our June Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey® results, lenders reported subdued mortgage demand growth, a pessimistic profit margin outlook, and strong concerns about increased competition. Against this challenging backdrop, we simultaneously surveyed lenders to understand their 2017 business priorities as well as their risk concerns.
APIs Are Reshaping Business Strategy
May 18, 2017
Businesses are increasingly using Artificial Intelligence (AI), Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and distributed ledger technology (also known as “blockchain”) to reduce errors and costs, speed up transactions, and drive richer and better customer service. We surveyed senior mortgage executives to learn about lenders' views on data strategy and technological innovation in general, and, specifically, to understand their experience with APIs and Chatbots.
Integration: Key to Future Mortgage Technology Success
March 13, 2017
A new generation of companies has emerged over the past few years to transform mortgage origination and servicing by digitizing transactions and removing manual steps. Their goal is to more closely align the consumer and lender experience with current online leaders, such as Amazon and Uber. We surveyed senior mortgage executives through our unique quarterly Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey® to understand lenders’ views of and experiences with next-gen technology service providers in the housing and mortgage space. We found that lenders do see new technology as the key to improving the customer experience but many face significant barriers in adopting and integrating these tools.
Recent homebuyers are flocking to mobile mortgage resources and may encourage new mortgage market entrants
December 5, 2016
Consumers’ mobile experiences with leaders such as Amazon are reshaping their expectations in all aspects of their lives, including their financial and mortgage activities. To better understand the impact of mobile technology on the consumer mortgage experience, we surveyed 1,200 low- and moderate-income homebuyers about their recent mortgage shopping and origination activities.
Student Debt: Whose Homeownership Rate Does It Hurt Most?
July 28, 2016
Having a college degree can increase one's income potential, but it often comes with the burden of student loan debt. Our ESR Group analyzed National Housing Survey data to examine the net effect of student loans and obtaining at least a bachelor's degree on homeownership likelihood.
Lenders Look to Technology for Efficiency and to Improve the Consumer Experience, But Do Not Fully Embrace Uber-Like Industry Disruptions
July 26, 2016
Many companies today are leveraging digital platforms to meet increasing consumer demand for simple, transparent, and consumable transactions. By comparison, the mortgage industry has lagged when it comes to technology innovation. Our Economic & Strategic Research Group surveyed senior mortgage executives through the Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey to examine lenders’ experiences with mortgage technologies and their views about innovation in the industry.
TRID: Larger Lenders Have the Advantages for Now
May 11, 2016
In February, Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research Group (ESR) surveyed senior mortgage executives to examine lenders' experiences with implementing TRID requirements and their views about the impact of TRID on their operation, the competitiveness of the mortgage industry, and consumer behaviors.
Fannie Mae Survey Shows Profit Margin Compression a Top Issue for Mortgage Executives
March 3, 2016
Over the past eight quarters, Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research Group surveyed senior mortgage executives to examine the factors that are driving lenders’ profit margin expectations and the strategies they plan to employ to address their profit margin outlook.
How Lenders Plan to Grow their Mortgage Business in 2016
February 24, 2016
Last year turned out to be a positive one for the mortgage market, but lenders face a tougher operating environment in 2016. Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research Group surveyed senior mortgage executives in November 2015 to examine their origination and servicing outlooks and identify their concerns heading into 2016.
Survey Reveals Significant Gaps in Consumer Knowledge of the Requirements to Qualify for a Mortgage
December 10, 2015
Despite easing credit standards, improving labor markets, and consumers’ continued strong aspiration to own, the homeownership rate remains at a low level. We surveyed consumers to measure their knowledge of the requirements to qualify for a mortgage, and to identify opportunities to expand access to mortgage credit responsibly by addressing such misperceptions.
Are Mortgage Lenders Missing Out on Mobile Opportunities?
October 30, 2015
Mobile devices are increasingly used for a variety of transactions, including mobile payments and banking. However, the lower priority that mortgage lenders are placing on mobile channels, and the differences in lender and consumer views on mobile tool functionality, could place lenders at risk of not meeting consumer demand. In 2015, we researched the use of mobile tools for mortgage shopping by consumers through our National Housing Survey™ (NHS) study and by lenders through our Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey™ (MLSS).
Invisible Equity: Do Homeowners See How Much Home Equity They Are Sitting On?
August 3, 2015
While tepid household income growth has proven to be a headwind to housing growth, there may be another factor weighing the market down. Data from Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey™ (NHS) suggest that the underestimation of home equity by homeowners may be deterring them from applying for mortgages, selling their homes, and buying different homes.
Survey Shows Lenders’ Limited Credit Overlay Practices
July 28, 2015
Credit overlays, referring to stricter mortgage approval standards that lenders place above the guidelines set by investors (such as the GSEs), are a potential and often cited factor impacting consumers’ access to mortgage credit. Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research Group surveyed senior mortgage executives in May 2015 to examine the attitudes of lenders in relation to credit overlays.
Lenders Expect Benefits from the GSE 97% LTV Products and the FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium Reduction
April 23, 2015
In 2014, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced an expansion of the availability of certain loans with a maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 97%. In addition, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) beginning on January 26, 2015 reduced annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIPs) by 0.5% on new loans. Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group surveyed senior mortgage executives in February to examine lenders views about the expected impact of these two initiatives.
What is the Mortgage Shopping Experience of Today's Homebuyer? Lessons from recent Fannie Mae acquisitions
April 13, 2015
Using data from Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey, this study examines borrowers' shopping behavior and experiences when trying to obtain a mortgage. While getting a mortgage is a complex process for prospective homebuyers, research and consumer guidance suggest that obtaining multiple mortgage quotes and being better informed may help borrowers get a mortgage with a better set of financial terms.
Why are Young Adults Living with Their Parents and When Will They Move Out?
July 29, 2014
Data from Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey examine the reasons why young adult children are living with their parents. The increase in adult children living with their parents has raised important questions regarding household formation and its impact on owning, renting, and the demand for new housing construction.
What Younger Renters Want and the Financial Constraints They See
May 6, 2014
Based on research from Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey, this study investigates what housing choices younger renters prefer and the financial constraints they see when deciding whether to own or rent.
Why Haven't Nearly Half of Mortgage Borrowers Refinanced?
February 6, 2014
Data from Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey provide insights into mortgage borrowers’ past refinancing behavior and future refinancing intent.
Technology Use in Mortgage Shopping: Practices and Opportunities
January 2, 2014
This study was highlighted in a feature article by Steve Deggendorf in the March 2014 issue of the MBA's Mortgage Banking Magazine
Data from Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey on mortgage shopping behaviors suggest that using online tools could help mortgage borrowers obtain better outcomes -- including lower costs, fewer surprises at the loan closing table, and higher long-term satisfaction with their choices -- by improving their understanding of mortgage terms and costs and enhancing their ability to make simultaneous comparisons of loan terms from multiple lenders.
Delinquent Mortgage Borrowers Grow More Favorable Toward Homeownership
In this study, data from Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey show that delinquent mortgage borrowers' attitudes toward the housing market have become more favorable in 2013 compared to 2012, with the majority believing in the benefits of homeownership.
Hispanics Are More Likely to Expect to Buy a Home in Three Years, Despite Mortgage Concerns
The research in this study investigates attitudes toward homeownership and getting a mortgage, as well as expectations for future homeownership, among the country’s fastest growing population.
Renters Are Satisfied, but Continuing to Reach for Homeownership
This study provides insights into whether current renters, particularly those in the younger generation, aspire to become homeowners and when they expect to achieve the goal of homeownership.
What Motivates Underwater Borrowers to Refinance?
Hundreds of thousands of potentially eligible underwater borrowers have yet to take advantage of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). This study analyzes the results from a survey of HARP-eligible homeowners (who have loans held by Fannie Mae, as of July 2012) to help understand underwater borrower motivations and potential barriers to refinancing.
Mortgage Borrowers May Be Leaving Money on the Table by Using Less Effective Mortgage Shopping Strategies
Many Americans do not adequately investigate or fail to understand fully the choices available to them when looking for a mortgage. This behavior may increase both cost to the borrower and the potential for problems to arise during the life of the loan. Data from this study suggest that consumers could save money and find a more financially sustainable mortgage product if they shopped more effectively.
Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) Collaborates on Research Paper with Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research Group
In August 2012, the Harvard University JCHS published a research paper that analyzes whether recent distress in the housing market has any measurable impact on Americans' views of owning versus renting. To produce the paper, the authors leveraged much of the data from Fannie Mae's 2010-2011 National Housing Surveys and were assisted by the company's Economic & Strategic Research Group.
Own-Rent Analysis Reveals Factors Influencing Consumers’ Decision to Buy Versus Rent a Home
The study provides insights into Americans’ homeownership preferences and raises possible implications for both housing policy makers and industry players in their efforts to manage housing-related risks and to encourage consumers to make sustainable housing choices.
Delinquency Pushes Homeowners' Attitudes Over the Edge
Findings from this study show that once a borrower becomes delinquent, their attitudes about homeownership, household finances, and paying their mortgage become significantly more negative than the general mortgage population, those who are underwater, and those who have experienced home value declines.
Americans of All Backgrounds Continue to Have Strong Aspirations to Own a Home
While Americans continue to aspire to own a home, attitudes about homeownership as an investment, financial constraints, and mortgage accessibility may stand in the way of their purchase decisions. In turn, future improvements in employment and personal finances, a pickup in interest rates in response to stronger economic growth, and stabilizing home prices may move Americans to act on their aspirations in coming years.
Findings on Attitudes of Consumers Who Know Defaulters
This latest survey shows that those exposed to default have similar attitudes about buying a home as those who do not know people that have defaulted. However, the survey also finds greater pessimism about the economy and personal finances among consumers who know defaulters.
Job Loss is a Concern for 26 Percent of American Workers
Consumer pessimism is growing with concerns about job loss and with 64 percent of Americans saying the economy is on the wrong track. An even more timely read from the July monthly indicators finds 70 percent believe the economy is on the wrong track, and just 23 percent say the economy is heading in the right direction.
Newfound Consumer Optimism is Balanced by Rising Household Expenses
Americans are more optimistic about home prices, the economy, and personal finances. However, rising household expenses (up by 9 percentage points since June 2010) may require Americans to remain cautions about the recovery.
Key Changes Seen in Americans’ Attitudes Toward Housing and the Economy over the Last Year
Fewer Americans believe that buying a home is a safe investment, compared to the January 2010 survey. However, Americans are more confident about the stability of home prices than they were at the beginning of the year, even though they lack confidence in the strength of the economy.
Factors Influencing Consumers’ Decision to Buy Versus Rent a Home
This study identified four key themes of the owning vs. renting decision-making process. The results are available in a series of themed reports:
Theme 1: Persistence of the Home Ownership Aspiration
Theme 2: Housing Choices Throughout the Lifecycle and the Impact of Changing Demographics
Theme 3: Economics of Owning and Renting Through the Cycles and Across Geographies
Theme 4: Renting and Owning Behaviors by Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration Status
Americans Uncertain Housing Market has Bottomed, Continue to Be Wary of Buying a Home
Fewer Americans think it is a good time to buy a home and more Americans think it is a bad time to buy. Similar to the last survey, an overwhelming majority of Americans believe it is a bad time to sell a home.
Americans Are Embracing a More Balanced and Realistic Approach to Housing
Americans have a mixed outlook for housing and homeownership. Respondents are increasingly more confident in the health of the housing market and think it has reached bottom, as measured by expectations for home prices. They also said they are less willing to take on risk, showing instead a stronger preference for renting now and buying later.
Americans Still Want to Own a Home, but Are More Cautious
Despite the recent housing downturn, Americans continue to value homeownership and think about their homes in ways that go much deeper than the financial investment.