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Consumer sentiment toward housing reaches its highest level in nearly two years

Increased confidence in job security and an expected decline in mortgage rates boosted results of Fannie Mae survey

Consumer sentiment toward housing reached its highest level since March 2022, fueled by increased confidence in job security and a higher share of people who expect mortgage rates to decrease.

Fannie Mae’s home purchase sentiment index (HPSI) — which tracks the U.S. housing market and consumer confidence to sell or buy a home — rose 3.5 points in January to 70.7. The full index is up 9.1 points from 12 months ago.

In January, 82% of consumers indicated that they are not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months, up from 75% in December.

An all-time survey-high 36% of respondents indicated that they expect mortgage rates to go down in the next 12 months, while 28% expect them to go up and 35% expect rates to remain the same. 

“For the first time in our national housing survey’s history, a greater share of consumers believe mortgage rates will decrease over the next year, rather than increase,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist. “Consumers also expressed greater confidence in their job situations this month, another sign that housing sentiment may continue to improve in 2024.”

The housing industry expects mortgage rates to dip below or hover around 6% by the end of the year as the Federal Reserve is expected to cut benchmark interest rates sometime this year.

Consumer perceptions of homebuying conditions, however, remain overwhelmingly pessimistic.

“While home affordability may improve if actual mortgage rates continue moving downward, other parts of the affordability equation have yet to ease or improve for consumers,” Duncan said.

Only 17% of survey respondents indicated that it’s a good time to buy a home. Twenty-two percent expected home prices to go down in the next 12 months, while 17% said their household income was significantly higher than a year ago. 

“All in all, while a lower mortgage rate path supports our forecast for a gradual increase in housing demand and sales activity in 2024, until we see a meaningful increase in housing supply, we expect affordability will remain a significant barrier to homeownership for many households,” Duncan said.

Fannie Mae forecasts total single-family mortgage origination volume at $1.98 trillion in 2024 and $2.44 trillion in 2025, up from $1.50 trillion in 2023.

The agency expects the annualized pace of existing home sales to move up to 4.5 million units by the fourth quarter of 2024, up from 3.8 million in Q4 2023.

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