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Presidential Election Clouds Views of Consumer Housing Sentiment in November

December 08, 2016 / Source: Fannie Mae

Katie Penote
202-752-2261

WASHINGTON, DC – The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) decreased in November for the fourth consecutive month, dipping 0.5 points to 81.2. Four of the six components that comprise the HPSI fell in November amid mixed consumer attitudes on either side of the U.S. presidential election. The share of consumers expecting mortgage rates to go down over the next year and those who believe now is a good time to sell a home both fell six percentage points on net. In addition, the net share of consumers reporting confidence in not losing their job over the next 12 months fell five percentage points. However, the net share who reported significantly higher household income compared with the same period last year climbed 11 percentage points in November, more than reversing the drop seen in October.

“The November Home Purchase Sentiment Index outcome is difficult to interpret as the data collection period occurred across the Presidential election timeline,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “The results are fairly evenly split between responses collected before and after the election, and there is evidence of an increase in consumer optimism in the immediate aftermath of the election. However, we caution readers against drawing conclusions about sustainable changes in consumer sentiment so soon after the election. For example, low mortgage rates have been the primary driver of positive attitudes toward the home buying and selling climate throughout the recovery. However, if mortgage rates continue their recent rise, we may see a dampening in home purchase attitudes. There are clear predecessors for rapid market changes that ultimately dissipated, which urges caution in the interpretation of stability in short-term rate changes. Most recently was the very temporary market reaction to the Brexit and, earlier, the 'Taper Tantrum,' and in both instances the rate regime returned to roughly its prior position. The drivers are somewhat different in this instance but nonetheless suggest modesty in drawing near-term conclusions. All that said, we do not see in the November HPSI results a fundamental departure from a flattening of housing activity relative to prior periods. This is consistent with our corporate forecast of a modest growth in the 12 months ahead.”

HOME PURCHASE SENTIMENT INDEX – COMPONENT HIGHLIGHTS
Fannie Mae’s 2016 Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) decreased again in November by 0.5 percentage points to 81.2. However, the HPSI is up 0.5 points compared with the same time last year.

  • The net share of Americans who say it is a good time to buy a house fell by 1 percentage point to 30%.
  • The net percentage of those who say it is a good time to sell fell 6 percentage points to 13% in November. The share who think it is a bad time to sell rose 2 percentage points from last month’s survey low to 38%.
  • The net share of Americans who say that home prices will go up increased 4 percentage points in November to 35%, reversing the 3-month downward trend for this metric.
  • The net share of those who say mortgage rates will go down over the next twelve months fell 6 percentage points to -51%.
  • The net share of Americans who say they are not concerned with losing their job fell 5 percentage points to 64%.
  • The net share of Americans who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago rose 11 percentage points to 15% in November, reversing the drop seen in October.

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 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). 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 November 2016 National Housing Survey was conducted between November 1, 2016 and November 21, 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 November 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 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.

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