Consumer Concerns Stabilize in November

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News Release

December 07, 2011

Consumer Concerns Stabilize in November; Downward Slide of Consumer Sentiment Appears to Have Halted

Home Price Expectations Improve While Other Indicators Show Little Change in Trend

Pete Bakel

202-752-2034

WASHINGTON, DC – Amid a spate of positive economic news during the November survey period, consumer sentiment appears to have stabilized from previous levels, with only incremental improvement in the deeply negative housing market sentiment witnessed this summer. According to results from Fannie Mae's November National Housing Survey, home price expectations moved from negative to positive territory for the first time in six months, with respondents expecting home prices to increase by 0.2 percent over the next year.  Overall, trends demonstrate that consumers are in a “wait and see” pattern as we move into 2012. This places consumer sentiment in line with Fannie Mae’s Economics & Mortgage Market Group’s November forecast of temporary economic improvement during the third and fourth quarters of 2011 leading into a slower economic growth path in 2012.

“Though their home price expectations have become slightly positive, consumers remain concerned about the direction of the economy and continue to view their household finances as being relatively flat,” said Doug Duncan, vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae. “Most Americans expect no improvement in their personal financial situation in the next 12 months and will likely remain wary about undertaking the significant financial obligation associated with homeownership until their view of their income, expenses, and job security heads in a more positive direction.”

SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS

Homeownership and Renting

  • Twenty-two percent of respondents expect home prices to increase over the next year (up 3 percentage points since last month), while 22 percent say they expect home prices to decline, down 1 percentage point since last month. 53 percent say prices will stay the same, a 2 percentage point drop from October.
  • Thirty-three percent of Americans say that mortgage rates will go up over the next 12 months, down 3 percentage points from October and a return to the level seen in September.
  • Sixty-eight percent of respondents say it is a good time to buy a home (down by 1 percentage point since last month), and just 10 percent say it is a good time to sell, which is unchanged from the previous two months.
  • On average, Americans expect home rental prices to increase by 3.2 percent over the next year, a 0.1 percent decrease from October.
  • Just 6 percent expect a decline in home rental prices (unchanged since last month), while 41 percent of respondents believe that home rental prices will increase in the next 12 months.
  • Thirty-two percent of Americans say they would rent their next home, while 63 percent say they would buy, down 3 percentage points since last month and a return to the level seen in September.

The Economy and Household Finances

  • Seventy-five percent of Americans say the economy is off on the wrong track (down 2 percentage points since October), while just 16 percent think the economy is on the right track, unchanged since September and tying the all-time low number.
  • The number of respondents expecting their personal financial situation to worsen over the next 12 months has stayed at 18 percent since October.
  • Sixty-six percent say their income is about the same, the highest number ever to report this. Sixteen percent of those surveyed say their household income has increased over the past 12 months (down 2 percentage points since October) while 18 percent say that their income has declined significantly.
  • Fifty-four percent report that their expenses are about the same compared to 12 months ago (up 3 percentage points versus October). Eight percent say their household expenses have decreased over the past 12 months (down 3 percentage points since October), while 37 percent say their expenses have increased significantly.

The most detailed consumer attitudinal survey of its kind, the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey polled 1,002 Americans via live telephone interview to assess their attitudes toward owning and renting a home, mortgage rates, homeownership distress, the economy, household finances, and overall consumer confidence. Homeowners and renters are asked more than 100 questions used to track attitudinal shifts (findings are compared to the same survey conducted monthly beginning June 2010). Fannie Mae conducts this survey and shares monthly and quarterly results so that we may help industry partners and market participants target our collective efforts to stabilize the housing market in the near-term, and provide support in the future.

For detailed findings from the November 2011 survey, as well as technical notes on survey methodology and the questions asked of respondents associated with each monthly indicator, please visit the Fannie Mae Monthly National Housing Survey site.  Also available on the site are quarterly survey results, which provide a detailed assessment of combined data results from three monthly studies. The November 2011 Fannie Mae National Housing Survey was conducted between November 1, 2011 and November 25, 2011. Interviews were conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, in coordination with Fannie Mae.

Fannie Mae exists to expand affordable housing and bring global capital to local communities in order to serve the U.S. housing market. Fannie Mae has a federal charter and operates in America's secondary mortgage market to enhance the liquidity of the mortgage market by providing funds to mortgage bankers and other lenders so that they may lend to home buyers. Our job is to help those who house America.

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