Housing sentiments move back up in Fannie Mae survey for November

Recovering from a dip in the previous month, Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey for November showed that sentiments toward the real estate market in the United States were again nearing record highs. Respondents thought it was a particularly good time to sell, and expected a major increase in home values over the next year.

Fannie Mae's Home Purchase Sentiment Index for the month stood at 87.8, up 2.6 points from October and seven points from November 2016 to fall just half a point below the record  high set in September. The index is based on the net results of six survey components: whether it is a good time to buy or sell, expected changes to home prices and mortgage rates, perceived job security, and changes to household income.

"These results are consistent with our expectation that the housing market will continue its modest expansion going forward," said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. "Next month's survey should offer the public a first look at the influence that potential tax reform may have on consumers' views toward housing and the broader economy."

Sixty-two percent of respondents thought it was a good time to sell a home, up only 1 percentage point from October but an 11-point jump from November 2016. Twenty-eight percent thought it was a bad time to sell, down 3 percentage points from the previous month and 10 percentage points from the previous year.

The average respondent expected home prices to increase 3.7 percent in the next 12 months. This expectation was up sharply from 2.3 percent in October and 2.6 percent in November 2016, making it the highest expectation for annual home price growth since June 2013.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said they think home prices will go up in the next 12 months, up 5 percentage points from the previous month and 10 percentage points from the previous year. Seven percent said they believe prices will go down, a decrease of 1 percentage point from both October and November 2016.

Attitudes toward the homebuying market remained fairly steady, with 61 percent considering it a good time to buy a home. This marked an increase of 4 percentage points from October but only 1 percentage point from November 2016. Thirty-two percent thought it was a bad time to buy, down from 35 percent in the previous month but up from 30 percent in the previous year.

Fifty-nine percent said they thought it would be easy to get a mortgage, unchanged from October but up 5 percentage points from November 2016. The share of respondents who thought it would be difficult to get a mortgage fell from 44 percent in the previous year and 39 percent in the previous month to 38 percent.

Only 5 percent of respondents said they expect mortgage rates to go down in the next 12 months, but this was up 1 percentage point from both the previous month and previous year. Fifty-six percent said they think rates will go up, an increase of 6 percentage points from October and 1 percentage point from November 2016.

Sixty percent of respondents said they think home rental prices will go up in the next 12 months, up 2 percentage points from the previous month and 8 percentage points from the previous year. Just 2 percent said they think rental prices will go down, a decrease of 1 percentage point from both October and November 2016.

The average respondent said they think rents will go up 4.9 percent over the next 12 months, a survey high. This was up from 4.4 percent in the previous month and 4.2 percent in the previous year.

Despite the expectations for steeper rent hikes, 30 percent of respondents said they would rent their next home if they were to move. This share was up 5 percentage points from October and 3 percentage points from November 2016. Sixty-five percent said they would buy a home if they were to move, down 2 percentage points from both the previous month and previous year.

Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they were not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months, up 2 percentage points from October and 6 percentage points from November 2016. Thirteen percent said they were concerned about potential unemployment, dropping 2 percentage points from the previous month and 4 percentage points from the previous year.

Eleven percent of respondent said their household income has decreased significantly compared to 12 months ago, the same share as the October survey and down 1 percentage point from November 2016. The share of respondents reporting a significantly higher household income held steady at 25 percent.

Half of all respondents said they believe their personal financial situation will get better in the next 12 months, the same share as the previous month and up 3 percentage points from the previous year. Eleven percent said they think their financial situation will worsen, the same share as in November 2016 and up 2 percentage points from October.

Fifty percent of respondents said they think the U.S. economy is on the right track, up 2 percentage points from October and 16 percentage points from November 2016. The share of respondents who thought the economy is on the wrong track held steady at 38 percent, which was a year-over-year decrease of 19 percentage points.

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