Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index decreased for the fourth consecutive month in November, dipping by 0.5 percentage points to 81.2.
However, the HPSI was up 0.5 points compared with the same time in 2015.
Penn Schoen Berland, in coordination with Fannie Mae, polled 1,000 Americans by telephone between Nov. 1 and Nov. 21, asking them 100 questions to track attitudinal shifts toward owning and renting a home, home and rental price changes, homeownership distress, the economy, household finances and overall consumer confidence — the six components of the index.
Respondents expressed mixed attitudes on either side of the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.
The share of those expecting mortgage rates to go down over the next year and those who said now was a good time to sell a home both fell six percentage points on net. In addition, the net share of consumers reporting confidence in not losing their job over the next 12 months fell five percentage points.
However, the net share who reported significantly higher household income compared with the same period last year shot up 11 points in November, reversing the drop reported in October.
“The November Home Purchase Sentiment Index outcome is difficult to interpret as the data collection period occurred across the presidential election timeline,” Fannie Mae’s chief economist Doug Duncan said in a statement.
“The results are fairly evenly split between responses collected before and after the election, and there is evidence of an increase in consumer optimism in the immediate aftermath of the election. However, we caution readers against drawing conclusions about sustainable changes in consumer sentiment so soon after the election.”
Duncan noted, for example, that low mortgage rates have driven positive attitudes toward the home buying and selling climate throughout the recovery. But if rates continue their recent rise, home purchase attitudes may sour. He pointed to predecessors for rapid market changes that quickly dissipated: the May 2013 “taper tantrum” and this summer’s temporary market reaction to Brexit.
“The drivers are somewhat different in this instance but nonetheless suggest modesty in drawing near-term conclusions,” Duncan said.
“All that said, we do not see in the November HPSI results a fundamental departure from a flattening of housing activity relative to prior periods. This is consistent with our corporate forecast of a modest growth in the 12 months ahead.”
Following are highlights from Fannie Mae’s November national housing survey:
- The net share of consumers who said it was a good time to buy a house fell by one percentage point to 30%
- The net percentage of those who said it was a good time to sell fell six points to 13%, while those who said it was a bad time rose two points from October’s survey low to 38%
- The net share of Americans who said home prices would rise increased by four percentage points to 35%, reversing the three-month downward trend for this metric
- The net share of those who said mortgage rates would go down over the next year fell by six points to -51%
- The net share of respondents who said they were not worried about losing their job fell five percentage points to 64%
- The net share of Americans who reported that their household income was significantly higher than a year ago rose 11 percentage points to 15%, reversing the drop seen in October.