Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) dropped 11.7 points in March to 80.8—the lowest reading since December 2016.
Five of the six HPSI components declined month-over-month, including the number of consumers concerned about losing their job over the next year. Fannie Mae also says consumers also reported homebuying and selling conditions have worsened and they have a “more pessimistic” view of home-price growth.
The HPSI is down 9 points year-over-year.
Doug Duncan, SVP and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae, said attitudes about the current home-selling environment have “deteriorated” and have fallen to their lowest level since January 2017.
“A survey record one-month drop in optimism about the direction of the economy appears to have weakened consumers’ views of both the current home-selling and homebuying environment, though the latter is likely buffered in part by low mortgage rates,” Duncan said. “When asked why it’s a bad time to buy or sell a home, approximately 7% of consumers offered COVID-19 as an unprompted response, one of the highest percentages of non-standard answers in the survey’s history. We expect these developments to weigh heavily on housing activity during the spring/summer homebuying season.”
The share of Americans who believe now is a good time to buy fell from 59% to 56%, while the percentage of Americans who believe now is a band time to buy increased to 36% from 32%.
In regards to home prices, the number of Americans who say home prices will go up over the next year fell from 47% to 39%. The share of consumers who believe home prices will stay the same fell to 32% from 38%.
A large increase was reported on whether Americans believe mortgage rates will go down over the next year, rising from 8% to 20% in March. Those who believe mortgage rates will go up rose one percentage point to 39%.
Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey found that the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.33% for the week ending on April 2. The average rate for the prior week was 3.5%.