Fannie Mae said today that consumer
responses to its monthly National Housing Survey may have been tempered in
September by growing concern about Congress's fiscal policy debate. While consumers continue to be generally upbeat
toward the housing market, their attitudes appear to have plateaued or even
decreased over the last three months.
"Our September National Housing Survey
results show that the improvements in consumer housing attitudes witnessed in
recent months softened ahead of the government shutdown," said Doug Duncan,
senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. "Americans' awareness
of policy uncertainty leading up to the October 1st shutdown and the pending
debt ceiling debate appears to have grown as indicated by an apparent
cautionary holding pattern in overall consumer housing and personal finance
How and when the policy issues are
handled could impact consumer attitudes over the next few months, Duncan
said. The gap between people who think
the economy is on the right track rose from 37 percent to 39 percent from
August to September with the wrong track opinion declining by those same two
points to 55 percent. This narrowing
gap, Duncan said, "Could widen, depending on the outcome of the debt ceiling
negotiations as the Treasury expects that the extraordinary measures to extend
the nation's borrowing authority will be exhausted by October 17. For example,
during the contentious 2011 debt ceiling debate and the resulting S&P
downgrade of the U.S. government debt, our survey showed that the right
track-wrong track spread widened to a survey record of 64 percentage points."
The percentage of survey respondents
who expect home prices to increase further over the next 12 months decreased
from 55 percent in August to 52 percent in the current survey and the average
expectation for an increase was down from 3.4 percent to 3.1 percent. However, mortgage rates are anticipated to
increase by a survey high 63 percent of respondents, up from 60 percent the
Seventy-two percent of survey
respondents say it is a good time to buy a house, up 1 percentage point, while
38 percent view it as a good time to sell.
The latter is an increase of 2 percentage points.
Respondents however appear to feel
that pressures in the rental market have eased.
Fifty-two percent now expect that rents will increase over the next 12
months compared to 53 percent in August and about 55 percent in July. The average increase in rents expected has
also decreased steadily since June when it peaked at around 4.3 percent. In September the average expectation was for
increases of around 3.4 percent.
The share of respondents who said they would buy if they
were going to move increased to a survey high of 69 percent and the share of
those who think it would be easy for them to do so increased slightly to 47
The percentage of respondents who expect their financial
situation to get worse over the next 12 months blipped up 4 percentage points
in September to 16 percent but the remaining 84 percent of respondents are
equally divided between those who expect an improvement and those who
anticipate no change. The share of consumers
who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months
ago fell by one percentage point from August, to 22 percent and those who says
their expenses are significantly higher rose from 32 percent to 33.
Fannie Mae conducts its National Housing Survey by phone
each month among a panel of about 1,000 respondents including both homeowners
and renters. The panel is asked more than
100 questions to assess their attitudes
toward owning and renting a home, housing and rental price changes,
homeownership distress, the economy, household finances, and overall consumer