Frustration toward housing affordability and inflation concerns continued to weigh down consumer sentiment in October.
Nearly 80% of respondents believe the economy is on the “wrong track,” up 7 percentage points from last month, according to the Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI). Additionally, a survey-record 85% of consumers say it is a bad time to buy a home, with most citing high home prices and mortgage rates as the primary reasons.
Overall, the HPSI increased 8.2 points from its all-time low in October 2022 to 64.9. On a sequential basis, the index is 0.4 points above September levels.
“Consumers expressed even greater pessimism toward the larger economy this month, in addition to their ongoing frustration with the housing market,” says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae senior vice president and chief economist. “Across all income groups, inflation has consistently driven the ‘wrong track’ belief since the end of last year, suggesting consumers are fed up with high prices of many goods and services.”
Mortgage rates are still weighing heavily on consumers: 47% of respondents believe mortgage rates will go up, and 36% believe mortgage rates will stay the same in the next 12 months. While a majority of consumers believe it is a bad time to buy a home, 63% of respondents believe it is a good time to sell a home, the same share as September. Forty percent of respondents believe home prices will go up in the next 12 months, while 23% believe home prices will go down in the same period.
“Although the labor market is strong and wages have risen in the past year, consumers may believe their purchasing power has not kept up with prices, as 69% of consumers say their incomes are ‘about the same’ compared to the previous year,” Duncan says. “We expect this tightness in household finances, along with high home prices and elevated mortgage rates, to prolong the affordability challenges facing many would-be home buyers.”
Job security continued to increase in October, with the share of respondents who are not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months increasing 3 percentage points to 78%. However, just 20% of respondents reported their household income is “significantly higher” than it was 12 months ago.