Housing Sentiment Dips Slightly on Interest Rate Concerns

Fannie Mae, Washington, D.C., reported its Home Purchase Sentiment Index decreased slightly in September, falling 0.3 points to 87.7 and reversing August’s increase.

Fannie Mae attributed the dip to decreases in three of the six components, including the mortgage rate and household income components. The net share of Americans who said it is a good time to buy a home rose by 5 percentage points, while the net share who said it is a good time to sell a home remained unchanged. However, the net share who expect mortgage rates to go down over the next 12 months fell 4 percentage points, and the net share of survey respondents who said their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago decreased 3 percentage points. Respondents also expressed a slightly more pessimistic view on job security, with the net share confident about not losing their job falling by 1 percentage point. Finally, the net share of respondents who said that home prices will go up in the next 12 months increased 1 percentage point.

“Perceptions of high home prices and expectations for rising mortgage rates continue to weigh on potential homebuyers,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist 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. In addition, 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. 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 index fell by 0.6 points from a year ago.