Home purchase sentiment stays flat in September

Attitudes toward the housing market and economy remained relatively unchanged in September, according to Fannie Mae.

The Home Purchase Sentiment Index for the month stood at 87.7, a drop of 0.3 points from the previous month and 0.6 points from the previous year. This index is based on six factors from Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey, and the dip was primarily driven by a drop in the net share of respondents reporting confidence in their job security, a rise in household income, or an expectation that mortgage rates will fall.

Respondents showed slightly more optimism toward home buying conditions, with 58 percent saying they consider it a good time to buy. While this was down 1 percentage point from September 2017, it was also up 1 percentage point from August. The share of respondents considering it a bad time to buy a home stood at 32 percent, up 1 percentage point from the previous year but down 4 percentage points from the previous month.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they thought it would be easy for them to get a mortgage, down 2 percentage points from August but up 1 percentage point from September 2017. Forty-one percent said they thought it would be difficult for them to get a mortgage, unchanged from the previous month but down 1 percentage point from the previous year.

Sixty percent of respondents said they believe mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months, up 2 percentage points from August and 7 percentage points from September 2017. Just 4 percent said they expect rates to drop, down 2 percentage points from both the previous month and previous year.

Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, said the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage of 4.63 percent in September was the highest since May 2011. He added that the projections from the Federal Open Market Committee in September indicate that the Federal Reserve will likely increase rates four times before the end of 2019, which would fuel further increases to mortgage rates.

"Still, downside risk to housing is limited by broader economic strength, which helped boost perceptions of current home buying conditions," said Duncan. "For consumers who say now is a good time to buy, the share citing overall economic conditions as a reason rose to a survey high."

Attitudes toward selling showed no change. Sixty-four percent of respondents considered it a good time to sell while 26 percent considered it a bad time. The figures were unchanged from both the previous month and previous year.

Forty-nine percent of respondents said they think home prices will increase in the next 12 months, up 1 percentage point from August but down 1 percentage point from September 2017. For the third month in a row, 10 percent said they believe prices will fall; this also matched the share from September 2017.

On average, respondents said they think home prices will go up by 2.6 percent. This was down slightly from expectations of 2.8 percent in the previous month and 2.7 percent in the previous year.

Respondents continued to prefer buying to renting if they were to move, with 66 percent saying they would purchase a home – down 1 percentage point from both August and September 2017. Thirty percent said they would rent, up 2 percentage points from August and 3 percentage points from September 2017.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they believe home rental prices will go up in the next 12 months, unchanged from the previous month but up 2 percentage points from the previous year. Just 2 percent said they think rents will drop, down 1 percentage point from September 2017 and 3 percentage points from August.

Respondents expected an average rent increase of 4.5 percent over the next 12 months. This was up from 4.4 percent in both the previous month and previous year.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they aren't worried about losing their job in the next 12 months – down 1 percentage point from August but up 2 percentage points from September 2017. For the second month in a row, 10 percent of respondents were worried about potential unemployment; this marked a year-over-year drop of 2 percentage points.

Twenty-eight percent of respondents reported that their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago, down from 31 percent in August but up from 27 percent in September 2017. Nine percent said their household income is significantly lower, down 3 percentage points from the previous year and unchanged from August.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said they think their personal financial situation will improve over the next 12 months, unchanged from the previous year but up 3 percentage points from September 2017. Eight percent said they think their personal financial situation will worsen, down 3 percentage points from the previous month and 1 percentage point from the previous year.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said they think the U.S. economy is on the right track, up 4 percentage points from August and 8 percentage points from September 2017. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they believe the economy is on the wrong track, a drop of 7 percentage points from both the previous month and the previous year.

Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey has been issued each month since June 2010. Approximately 1,000 people are polled via telephone interviews each month, with respondents answering more than 100 questions to gauge their opinions about the housing market and the economy.

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments