The latest Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index, revealed a decrease in December, falling 2.7 points to 83.5, resuming its recent downward trend after November's slight uptick.
"Consumer attitudes regarding whether it's a good time to buy a home worsened significantly in the last month, as well as from a year ago, to a survey low," said Doug Duncan, senior vice president, and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae.
A 12-percentage point decrease in the net share of Americans who said it is a good time to buy a home is a key factor to have contributed to this decline. However, the report indicated a 1 percentage point or 36 percent increase in the net share of Americans who said it is a good time to sell a home. This component is up 2 percentage points from the same time last year, the report stated. Among those surveyed, respondents reporting significantly higher income over the past twelve months recorded a decline by five percentage points to 19 percent, an increase of 3 percentage points from 2018.
The net share of respondents who expect home prices to go up fell by 2 percentage points to 31 percent, recording a decline for the third consecutive month. The report indicated a fall in this component by 13 percentage points from the same time the previous year. There were no changes reflected in the net share who expect a fall in mortgage rates, remaining at -56 percent, a decline of 4 percentage points from the same time last year.
The component highlights of the survey found a decline in homebuying sentiments from 11 percent the previous month—also a drop by 13 percentage points around the same period last year. According to the report, the net share of Americans who say they are not concerned about losing their job increased 2 percentage points to 79 percent—up 11 percentage points from the same time last year.
"Although home price growth slowed in 2018, the cumulative impact of sustained, robust increases in home prices outpacing income growth likely helped drive the share of consumers citing high home prices as a primary reason for a bad time to buy a home to a survey high. Meanwhile, consumers' views on the direction of the economy, a key support for housing market sentiment of late, has softened somewhat from its October high. Looking ahead, consumers expect the pace of home price growth to slow over the course of 2019, which may temper growing concern over housing affordability," Duncan said.
Read the full report here.