Affordability Expected to Be a Growing Challenge for Potential Homebuyers
The Fannie Mae (FNMA/OTCQB) Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) decreased 0.5 points to 74.2 in December, as consumers continued to report substantially divergent views of homebuying and home-selling conditions. Overall, three of the index’s six components decreased month over month. In December, 76% of respondents reported that it’s a good time to sell a home, compared to the survey record-low 26% of consumers who reported that it’s a good time to buy. By comparison, in December 2020, 50% of respondents believed it was a good time to sell, while 52% believed it was a good time to buy. Year over year, the full index is up 0.2 points.
“The HPSI’s underlying components changed dramatically in the last 12 months – particularly the two related to homebuying and home-selling sentiment – and we have seen the index drift slightly downward since March 2021, an indication that the housing market may begin to soften in the coming year,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Over the past year, low mortgage rates plus government stimulus programs helped increase mortgage demand, but the bidding-up of homes increased prices to record levels, making affordability a greater constraint for both first-time and move-up homebuyers. Among homeowners, the ‘good time to buy’ sentiment fell 30 percentage points over the past year to its current level of 30%; for renters it fell from 37% to 21%. Even though demand remains strong, a majority of consumers clearly have reservations about purchasing a home at current prices.”
Duncan continued: “We currently expect mortgage rates to continue to drift modestly upward through year end, despite inflation concerns, which will likely compound the affordability concerns expressed by consumers in the HPSI. Recent MBS issuance data indicating a rise in average debt-to-income levels also backstop that concern, suggesting additional affordability constraints. Combined with our survey results showing rising expectations for higher rent prices among consumers, we believe some would-be renters may look to accelerate their home purchase timeline, helping to drive continued strong (though decelerating) home price growth. We do expect an increase in new homes to come to market later in 2022, which should provide some supply relief; however, it may not be enough to meaningfully affect home prices. As such, affordability is likely to be a growing challenge over the coming year.”
Home Purchase Sentiment Index – Component Highlights
Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) decreased in December by 0.5 points to 74.2. The HPSI is up 0.2 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 29% to 26%, while the percentage who say it is a bad time to buy increased from 64% to 66%. As a result, the net share of those who say it is a good time to buy decreased 5 percentage points month over month.
- Good/Bad Time to Sell: The percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to sell a home increased from 74% to 76%, while the percentage who say it’s a bad time to sell decreased from 21% to 17%. As a result, the net share of those who say it is a good time to sell increased 6 percentage points month over month.
- Home Price Expectations: The percentage of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months decreased from 45% to 44%, while the percentage who say home prices will go down decreased from 21% to 19%. The share who think home prices will stay the same increased from 28% to 30%. As a result, the net share of Americans who say home prices will go up increased 1 percentage point month over month.
- Mortgage Rate Expectations: The percentage of respondents who say mortgage rates will go down in the next 12 months decreased from 5% to 4%, while the percentage who expect mortgage rates to go up decreased from 58% to 56%. The share who think mortgage rates will stay the same decreased from 32% to 30%. As a result, the net share of Americans who say mortgage rates will go down over the next 12 months increased 1 percentage point month over month.
- Job Concerns: The percentage of respondents who say they are not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months decreased from 83% to 82%, while the percentage who say they are concerned increased from 15% to 16%. As a result, the net share of Americans who say they are not concerned about losing their job increased 2 percentage points month over month.
- Household Income: The percentage of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago remained unchanged at 23%, while the percentage who say their household income is significantly lower increased from 13% to 17%. The percentage who say their household income is about the same decreased from 61% to 59%. As a result, the net share of those who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago decreased 4 percentage points month over month.
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). 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 December 2021 National Housing Survey was conducted between December 1, 2021 and December 17, 2021. 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 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.
To receive e-mail updates with other housing market research from Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group, please click here.
About Fannie Mae
Fannie Mae helps make the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and affordable rental housing possible for millions of people in America. We partner with lenders to create housing opportunities for people 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:
fanniemae.com | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram | YouTube | Blog
Fannie Mae Newsroom
Photo of Fannie Mae
Fannie Mae Resource Center
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.