Despite the fact that mortgage interest rates just fell to the lowest level since February 2015, consumers haven’t felt this poorly about the housing market in 18 months, according to new survey results released Thursday by Fannie Mae.
Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index, which reflects consumers’ current views and forward-looking expectations of housing market conditions, fell by 2.5 points in March to 80.2, the lowest reading in the last 18 months.
According to Fannie Mae, four of the six HPSI components fell in March, as consumers displayed a more negative outlook on the future of the economy.
The largest decrease of the HPSI components was in the net share of consumers who think now is a good time to sell a home, which fell by 8 percentage points and now sits at negative 1% – meaning that more people feel that now is a bad time to sell a home rather than a good time to sell for the first time in more than a year.
And that wasn’t the only big drop among the HPSI components.
Survey respondents also said that their confidence about not losing their job decreased by 7 percentage points, falling from an all-time survey high in February, despite the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ March employment report showing strong job creation and continued expansion of the labor force.
Additionally, the HPSI’s Household Income component fell by 4 percentage points as fewer consumers reported that their income was significantly higher than it was 12 months ago.
“Growing pessimism over the last three months about the direction of the economy seems to be spilling over into home purchase sentiment,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae.
“The gap between the share of consumers who think the economy is on the wrong track and the share who think it is on the right track has widened, nearly matching its reading last August, when concerns regarding China and oil prices led to the biggest stock market plunge in years,” Duncan continued.
“In turn, we saw dips this month in income growth perceptions, attitudes about the home selling climate, and job confidence, all of which contributed to the lowest HPSI reading in the last year and a half,” Duncan added. “These declines seem to be at odds with recent news of solid overall job creation, but may reflect weakening economic performance in certain industries.”
Broken down by component, the HPSI showed unsurprisingly mixed results given the survey’s overall results.
According to Fannie Mae’s report:
- The net share of respondents who say that it is a good time to buy a house fell 2 percentage points to 33% as more Americans say it is a bad time to buy
- The net percentage of those who say it is a good time to sell a house fell 8 percentage points to negative 1%
- The net share of respondents who say that home prices will go up rose 1 percentage point to 34%, breaking the downward trend from the last few months
- The net share of those who say mortgage interest rates will go down rose 5 percentage points to negative 45% this month, as fewer consumers say mortgage rates will go down, continuing the trend from February
- The net share of respondents who say they are not concerned with losing their job fell 7 percentage points to 68%
- 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%