Homebuyers are feeling pretty discouraged by the housing market these days. According to the latest Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index, just 35% of consumers believe now is an excellent time to buy a home, down from 47% in April. And those who believe it is wrong to be a homebuyer increased to 56% from 48%.
As Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, said, “Consumers appear to be acutely aware of higher home prices and the low supply of homes, the two reasons cited most frequently for that particular sentiment.”
“However, despite the challenging buying conditions, consumers do appear more intent to purchase on their next move, a preference that may be supported by the expectation of continued low mortgage rates, as well as the elevated savings rate during the pandemic, which may have allowed many to afford a down payment,” Duncan said.
Though low inventory, bidding wars, and high prices have knocked down homebuyer sentiment, other factors, such as a rebounding economy and stable income levels, pushed the overall HSPI index up one point to 80 in May.
Four of the HPSI’s six components measuring market expectations increased month over month. The HPSI is still 12.5 points higher than in May 2020, when forbearance and unemployment heavily weighed down consumer sentiment.
Because the housing market feels very much like a zero-sum game at this point, sellers again felt good about their position. Just over two-thirds of those surveyed in June said it was prime time to list a home and tempt the swarms of homebuyers, unchanged from the prior month.
Respondents also remained virtually unaltered on how much homes will cost. The percentage of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months decreased from 49% to 47%, while the percentage who say home prices will go down remained unchanged at 17%. The share who think home prices will stay the same increased from 27% to 29%.
Mortgage rate expectations changed a bit in May for prospective homebuyers and sellers: The percentage who expect mortgage rates to go up decreased from 54% to 49%, while the share of those who think mortgage rates will stay the same increased from 33% to 38%. The remaining 6% are hopeful they may slide back down.
Since rates have fallen below 3% again, Fannie Mae’s economic and strategic group revised its purchase and refinance volume expectations. The economic group cut $43 billion from its 2021 purchase volume forecast; it now estimates purchase mortgages will hit $1.8 trillion by year’s end.
Because record-low mortgage rates fueled the refinance wave of 2020’s housing market, Fannie Mae also revised its refi origination volume to $2.2 trillion in 2021, an increase of $125 billion from the previous month’s forecast.
Borrowers who aren’t stuffing their pockets full of refi savings may be making it up on the job market. The percentage of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than 12 months ago increased from 21% to 29%. In contrast, the percentage who say their household income is significantly lower decreased from 17% to 13%. To top it off, the percentage of respondents who say they are not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months increased from 80% to 87%.