The confidence consumers have in housing slipped due to increasing prices and rates, according to the August Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI). At 87.7, the Index fell 0.3 percentage points month-over-month and 0.6 percentage points year-over-year.
Twenty-six percent of homebuyers, however, were optimistic about purchasing—a five-percentage point increase from July—and 38 percent of homeowners were optimistic about selling, unchanged.
“HPSI remains flat this month as perceptions of high home prices and expectations for rising mortgage rates continue to weigh on potential homebuyers,” says Doug Duncan, chief economist and senior vice president at Fannie Mae. “In September, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased for the second consecutive month to 4.63 percent—its highest level since May 2011.”
According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the median national price is up 4.6 percent year-over-year. Last month, the Federal Reserve brought up the federal funds rate for the third time this year—which not only feeds the perception that rates are rising, but also can fuel increases.
“The Federal Open Market Committee members’ interest rate projections at the September meeting continued to point to four additional rate increases between now and the end of 2019,” Duncan says. “Still, downside risk to housing is limited by broader economic strength, which helped boost perceptions of current home-buying conditions. 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.”
The HPSI is derived from Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey® (NHS).
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