How the Election Affected Consumer Sentiment Toward Housing


Two reports released Wednesday indicate mixed reactions to the presidential election where consumers’ attitudes toward housing are concerned.

The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index fell for the fourth consecutive month in November by 0.5 points to 81.2. The study featured data that was collected both before and after the presidential election.

Of the index’s six components, four decreased. The share of Americans who believe mortgage rates will go down in the next year fell six percentage points to negative 51%.

Similarly, the share who feel that now is a good time to sell also decreased by six percentage points to 13%, while the share who think it is a bad time to sell increased two percentage points from last month’s survey low to 38%. The share of Americans who believe now is a good time to buy a house also dropped one percentage point to 30%.

More Americans appear concerned about their job safety — the share who expressed confidence in not losing their job in the next year dipped five percentage points.

On the flip side, the share of Americans who believe their household income is significantly higher than a year ago rose 11 percentage points to 15%. There was also a four-percentage-point increase in the net share of people who say home price will go up to 35%.

The spread of the Fannie Mae data across the election timeline makes it difficult to determine any specific impact the election may have had.

“The November Home Purchase Sentiment Index outcome is difficult to interpret as the data collection period occurred across the presidential election timeline,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “The results are fairly evenly split between responses collected before and after the election, and there is evidence of an increase in consumer optimism in the immediate aftermath of the election.”

Duncan cautioned though about making concrete determinations of consumer sentiment so close to the election, citing mortgage rates as an example.

“If mortgage rates continue their recent rise, we may see a dampening in home purchase attitudes,” Duncan said. “There are clear predecessors for rapid market changes that ultimately dissipated, which urges caution in the interpretation of stability in short-term rate changes.”

Another report indicates that consumer feelings toward the election and its effects on housing could depend on where a person rests in the political spectrum.

Online marketplace Trulia found that Republicans’ optimism toward the housing market rose 26 percentage points after the election when compared with before. Meanwhile, Democrats turned pessimistic following President-elect Donald Trump’s win, with optimism for buying a home falling 23 percentage points.

Trulia also noted that the share of Americans who view homeownership as a piece of the American dream fell to 72% from 75% a year ago, the first drop reported since 2011. The biggest drop occurred among millennials — to 72% from 80% — though 83% of millennials still said they plan to purchase a home eventually.

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