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Real Estate

Fannie Mae survey confirms: It’s a seller’s market

First-time homebuyers face particular obstacles

After two consecutive months of advances, Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index, a composite index designed to track consumers’ housing-related attitudes, intentions and perceptions, fell 2.3 points in July to 74.2. Year over year, the HPSI is down 19.5 points but still sits above April’s near-record low.

According to the report, 53% of Americans now believe it is a good time to buy a home – an 8% decrease from June’s 61%. On the flip side, the percentage of people who believe it is a good time to sell increased 4% last month to 45% as July reports reflected a seller’s market.

“Supply constraints appear to be applying upward pressure to consumers’ home price expectations, which in turn has contributed to both a sharp reversal in optimism about whether it is a good time to buy a home and further improvement in home-selling sentiment,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae.

Pent-up demand coupled with low inventory created the perfect storm for median home prices to reach record highs in July – and homebuyers took notice. The net share of Americans who said home prices will go up in the next 12 months continued to rise another 3% past June’s survey record increase. The net share of respondents who said those same prices will go down fell 4%.

Last week, Freddie Mac reported the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 2.88% – the lowest in the series history.  The number of HPSI respondents who said mortgage rates will go down in the next 12 months decreased slightly in July from 17% to 16%, while the number of people who expect mortgage rates to go up increased from 32% to 35%.

“Not surprisingly – more than any other respondent groups – renters, 18-to-34-year olds, and households earning less than $100,000 think it’s a bad time to buy a home, which we believe suggests a less favorable outlook for first-time homebuying activity,” Duncan said.

While  initial jobless claims sat at 1.2 million at the end of July according to the Labor Department, the percentage of respondents who say they are not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months rose slightly to 76% from 74%. Those who are concerned fell to 23% from 26%.

Duncan said it’s important to note that the July survey was conducted as legislators considered the extension of several provisions in the CARES Act to support household incomes during the pandemic. In the coming months, Fannie Mae expects consumer sentiment to be closely linked to the country’s progress in containing the spread of the virus.

This time last year, 55% of respondents thought the economy was on the right track – today 34% believe that same sentiment.

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