Confidence in US housing market hits lowest on record: Fannie Mae

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Consumer confidence in the US housing market has plunged to its lowest level on record as steep mortgage rates crush demand, according to findings released by Fannie Mae on Monday.

Just 16% of consumers said they felt it was a good time to buy a house in October, according to Fannie Mae’s monthly survey. That figure marked a record low since the survey was first conducted in 2011.

The rising level of concern also extended to home sellers. The share of respondents who said it was a bad time to sell a home hit 42% in October, from 33% the previous month. Meanwhile, the share of respondents who felt it was a good time to sell declined to 51% from 59% in September.

“Consumers are increasingly pessimistic about both homebuying and home-selling conditions,” Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan said in a statement.

“Amid persistently high home prices and unfavorable mortgage rates, the ‘bad time to buy’ component increased to a new survey high this month, while the ‘good time to sell’ component continued its downward trend,” Duncan added.

Buying demand in the once-red-hot housing sector has crated in recent months during a rapid run-up in mortgage rates. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage recently topped 7% for the first time in two decades — further crimping affordability for prospective buyers and causing hesitation among sellers who have locked in lower rates on their current properties.

Mortgage rates have surged as the Federal Reserve sharply hikes interest rates. Fed Chair Jerome Powell admitted earlier this month that housing activity has “weakened significantly,” though he and other policymakers have argued the market was overheated and due for a correction.

Consumer confidence in the housing market has plummeted.
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Duncan noted that homeowners “remained concerned” about the prospect of plunging home values — with 37% of respondents expecting a decline in prices over the next 12 months compared to 30% who predicted an increase.

“As continued affordability constraints reduce homebuyer demand, and homeowners become reluctant to sell at potentially reduced prices, we expect home sales to slow even further in the coming months, consistent with our forecast,” Duncan added.

A separate survey conducted by Redfin found that housing affordability was top of mind for many Americans ahead of the critical midterm elections on Tuesday. The share of residents who said home affordability was impacting their voting choices rose to 29%, up from 23% in 2020.

Meanwhile, just 41% of Americans said they were financially better off than they were just four years ago.

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