As a result of Fannie Mae's monthly survey of consumer attitudes and their own financial situation in March, consumers expressed a mixture of sentiments toward buying or selling a home. In comparison to March 2022, it has dropped 11.9 points. This represents a significant decline in the index since last year. The index is a measure of consumer confidence, and this drop indicates that people may be feeling uncertain about the future.
The index showed net positive responses to four components this month, but the net positive responses to the two components dealing with home sales and purchases were lower by double digits than a year earlier. This suggests that the market is still relatively weak, despite the overall improvement in confidence. This could be due to the lack of available housing and the high prices in many areas. Furthermore, the ongoing pandemic may be a contributing factor. In April 2022, the 60% net positive level was down 11 points from its already depressed level. Homebuying sentiment has been in negative territory since the spring of 2021.
A net positive of 18% was reported, which is 35 points less than the net from a year earlier. Positive replies for home sales increased 8 points to 58% of responses.
According to Mark Palim, vice president and deputy chief economist at Fannie Mae, "the HPSI increased modestly in March despite the recent banking turbulence, though it still remains close to its historical low." "A vast majority of consumers still think that it's a bad time to buy a home, even as the spring homebuying season approaches. Homeowners who had this opinion commonly cited "unfavorable mortgage rates" as the main cause of their pessimism, which supports the frequently mentioned deterrent - or "lock-in effect" - that many mortgage holders who may be considering relocating have toward giving up their lower rates.
As Palim pointed out, just a small portion of consumers anticipate a decrease in prices, leaving a net positive of zero percent. This is a 4 point increase, but there are net 28% fewer people looking for higher pricing now than there were last year.
The one factor that did improve over the course of the month and the year was the anticipation of reduced interest rates. Even though the net negative score was still 39% (only 12% of respondents believed rates would decrease), this was nevertheless 1 point higher than in February and 28 points higher on an annual basis.
The percentage of respondents who say they are not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months increased from 73% to 78%, while the percentage who were concerned decreased slightly. Although up 7 percentage points month over month, the net of unconcerned was down 18 points from March of last year.
Finally, the net share of people who claim their household income is much higher than it was a year ago fell from 10% to 9% over the course of the year, a 2 percentage point monthly decline.
A telephone survey of 1,000 customers, including homeowners and renters, is done each month as part of the NHS, from which the HPSI is derived. Along with the six questions that make up the index's core, respondents are also given questions on the economy, their personal finances, their attitudes toward acquiring a mortgage, and questions to monitor changes in attitudes.