HPSI Decreases Slightly to 83.2 from 83.8: Housing Sentiment Remains Flat While Wages Struggle

09 Nov, 2015, 08:30 ET from Fannie Mae

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Fannie Mae's Home Purchase Sentiment Index™ (HPSI) decreased slightly to 83.2 in October as consumers' volatile outlook on both household income improvement and mortgage interest rates kept housing sentiment relatively flat. The HPSI Household Income component fell 4 points on net this month and the Good Time to Buy and Good Time to Sell components fell 2 and 6 points, respectively, after picking up in September. These dips suggest hesitancy by some consumers to make long-term financial commitments such as buying or selling a home. However, consumers appeared to be less worried about job loss, with the net figure nearing the most favorable reading in the five-year history of Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey™ (NHS). In addition, the share of consumers who think mortgage interest rates will go down increased by 4 points on net in October.

"The income growth necessary for renewed momentum in housing market sentiment remains elusive, even though consumers' confidence in their job security continues to strengthen," said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. "Consumers' net view on whether their household income has improved over the last year is down once again this month. Some consumers may be hesitant or unwilling to commit to buying or selling a home without seeing meaningful improvement in their wages and salaries. Still, the HPSI remains close to its near all-time high level of the past four years and, given the strong October jobs report, suggests that any cooling in near-term activity, if it occurs, should be moderate."

HOME PURCHASE SENTIMENT INDEX – COMPONENT HIGHLIGHTS

Fannie Mae's October 2015 Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) decreased 0.6 percentage points to 83.2 in October following a 3-point increase last month to near its peak level. Of the six component questions, net positive responses rose for three components and fell for three components. Most notably, the Good Time to Sell and Household Income components decreased 6 and 4 points on net, respectively, while Mortgage Rate net expectations increased 4 points. Overall, the HPSI is up 0.7 points since this time last year.

  • The net share of respondents who say that it is a good time to buy a house fell 2 percentage points to 34% after climbing the prior two months.
  • The net percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to sell a house fell 6 percentage points to 10% in October, dropping from September's survey high.
  • The net share of respondents who say that home prices will go up rose 2 percentage points to 38%.
  • The net share of those who expect mortgage interest rates to drop rose 4 percentage points to negative 46%, stopping the trend of net decreases in the last few months.
  • The net share of respondents who say they are not concerned with losing their job rose 2 percentage points to 71%, and has risen each month since July. The percent of respondents who are not concerned about losing their job reached an all-time high of 85%.
  • The net share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago fell 4 percentage points to 11%.

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 October 2015 National Housing Survey was conducted between October 1, 2015 and October 25, 2015. 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 October 2015 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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