Government Shutdown and Debt Ceiling Debate a Real Downer on Consumer Economic and Housing Sentiment

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National Housing Survey Monthly Indicators

The recent U.S. federal government shutdown and the ongoing debt ceiling debate appear to have taken a toll on Americans’ outlook toward the economy and housing market, according to the Fannie Mae October 2013 National Housing Survey results. As the survey is conducted generally during the first three weeks of each month, the majority of respondents in October were surveyed during the government shutdown. Notably, the gap between the share of consumers who said the economy is on the wrong track and those who said it's on the right track widened from 16 percentage points in September to 40 percentage points in October – a record month-over-month change since the survey’s inception in 2010.

Monthly Housing Survey

With regard to housing, the share of consumers who say it's a good time to buy a house declined to 65 percent – also an all-time survey low – and the share who say mortgage rates will go up in the next year fell 6 percentage points to 57 percent. However, while Americans’ housing sentiment may continue to slow during the next few months as the debt ceiling debate ramps up, it is not expected to derail the gradual healing in the housing market.

"Housing market sentiment has clearly suffered in the wake of the recent government shutdown and debt ceiling debate,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “In October, we saw attitudes toward both the economy and the current buying environment experience their largest one-month drops in the survey’s three-year history. While this decline in consumer optimism may portend a slowing of the housing recovery, supply constraint data suggest that we are likely to see continued positive growth in home prices. That being said, October’s survey results suggest that consumer attitudes are highly responsive to ongoing debate and decision-making in Washington. Three key budget and debt ceiling dates loom in December, January, and February. The handling of each will likely play a key role in determining the pace and timing of any recovery in consumer sentiment."

Fannie Mae's monthly national consumer attitudinal survey report provides indicators offering a window into the opinions of Americans across the country. These behavioral insights convey what consumers think about the outlook for owning and renting a home and about their household finances, and may serve as key inputs for determining the future course of investment across housing types.

On this webpage you will find a news release with highlights from the survey results, the October Data Release highlighting 12 consumer attitudinal indicators, a podcast containing highlights from this month’s survey, technical notes providing in-depth information about the survey methodology, the questionnaire used for the survey, and a comparative assessment of the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey and other consumer surveys.

Downloads and Related Links
News Release
October 2013 National Housing Survey Data Release (PDF)
Podcast – October National Housing Survey (.mp3)