Home Purchase Sentiment Index Decreases to 81.5 in January: Fewer Households Report Income Growth, Putting the Squeeze on Affordability

Feb 08, 2016, 08:30 ET from Fannie Mae

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Fannie Mae's Home Purchase Sentiment Index™ (HPSI) decreased 1.7 points to 81.5 in January, with housing affordability constraints reflected in the downward movement of two of the HPSI components. Good Time to Buy figures trended down on net in 2015, declining an additional 4 percentage points in January. The share of consumers who reported that their income was significantly higher than it was 12 months ago fell 3 percentage points after climbing 9 percentage points on net in December.

"Housing affordability is being constrained because the pace of growth in real income has not kept up with gains in real home prices as demand has grown faster than supply," said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. "On the bright side, consumers have been increasingly positive about their ability to get a mortgage, suggesting that credit tightness is not the main issue limiting housing market activity today, a feeling that we also see conveyed by lenders in our Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey®. We expect further progress in the HPSI to be limited until income growth picks up or supply, particularly in lower-priced homes, expands more rapidly."

HOME PURCHASE SENTIMENT INDEX – COMPONENT HIGHLIGHTS

Fannie Mae's January 2016 Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) fell 1.7 percentage points in January to 81.5. While four of the six HPSI components decreased in January, Good Time to Sell rose by 1 point and Mortgage Rate net expectations stayed the same at negative 52 percent. Overall, the HPSI is down 1.3 points since this time last year.

  • The net share of respondents who say that it is a good time to buy a house fell 4 percentage points to 31%. An all-time survey low was equaled as only 61% of respondents say it is a good time to buy a house.
  • The net percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to sell a house rose 1 percentage point to 9%.
  • The net share of respondents who say that home prices will go up fell 3 percentage points to 37%.
  • The net share of those who say mortgage interest rates will go down remained at negative 52% this month.
  • The net share of respondents who say they are not concerned with losing their job fell 1 percentage point to 71%. An all-time survey high was maintained as 85% of respondents say they are not concerned about losing their job.
  • The net share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago fell 3 percentage points to 12%.

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 polled 1,000 Americans 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). As cell phones have become common and many households no longer have landline phones, the NHS contacts 60 percent of respondents via their cell phones (as of October 2014). To reflect the growing share of households with a cell phone but no landline, the National Housing Survey has increased its cell phone dialing rate to 60 percent as of October 2014. 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 stabilize the housing market in the near-term, and provide support in the future. The January 2016 National Housing Survey was conducted between January 1, 2016 and January 25, 2016. Most of the data collection occurred during the first two weeks of this period. Interviews were conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, in coordination with Fannie Mae.

DETAILED HPSI & NHS FINDINGS

For detailed findings from the January 2016 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 Consumer Attitude Measures page on fanniemae.com. Also available on the site are in-depth topic analyses, 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.

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.

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