Press Release

Households Expect Slower Growth in Home Prices, but Continue to See Housing as a Good Investment

May 22, 2019

NEW YORK – The Federal Reserve Bank of New York today released results from its 2019 SCE Housing Survey, which provides information on consumers’ housing-related experiences and expectations. The survey, which is part of the broader Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE), shows that households expect home prices to rise at a somewhat slower pace relative to last year. A large majority of households continue to view housing as a good financial investment, although the share believing that housing is a “very good investment” declined in all regions. Renters perceive that access to mortgage credit has loosened somewhat, after tightening in 2018. The majority of renters still perceive obtaining a mortgage as difficult, but the share perceiving it as easy or very easy rose above 21% for the first time since at least 2014.

These latest findings are from the sixth installment of the SCE Housing Survey, which has been fielded annually since 2014. More detailed results are available in the SCE Housing Survey’s interactive web feature, which presents trends of key variables and various demographics over time. In addition, a detailed background report describes the sample and presents summary statistics for a larger number of questions.

Key findings from the 2019 Survey are:

Home Prices/Rents

  • Average home price change expectations at both the one- and five-year horizons fell relative to last year. For example, the mean one-year ahead expected change in home prices in 2019 was 3.6%, over a percentage point below last year’s 4.6% and the second-lowest level since the inception of the survey in 2014. Five-year growth expectations average 2% per year, almost a full percentage point lower than last year.
  • Households’ perceived downside risk in home prices increased slightly. For instance, at the five-year horizon, the average probability of home prices decreasing increased from 27% in 2018 to 29%, where it stood in 2017. Younger respondents—those under 50—perceive more downside risk compared to those over 50.
  • In contrast to house prices, rent change expectations were essentially steady at both the one- and five-year horizons. At the one-year horizon, mean one-year ahead rent increase expectations were 7.3%, the same as in 2018, while five-year ahead expectations stood at 4.5%, up from 4.3% a year ago.

Housing Outlook

  • Attitudes toward housing as a financial investment remained strongly positive: 65% of all respondents think that buying property in their zip code is a “very good” or “somewhat good” investment, the same level as in 2018. Only 9.0% think housing is a “bad” investment, down from 10.6% a year ago. Younger households were slightly less enthusiastic about housing as an investment, with lower shares believing it is a good investment, and higher shares believing it to be bad.
  • The average reported probability of moving over the next year reversed a five-year downward trend, rising to 17.8% from 17.0% in 2018. At the three-year horizon, move probabilities fell again, to 28.6% from 29.1% in 2018. The average probability of buying a home, conditional on moving within the next three years, held essentially steady, at 64.0%, versus 63.9% in 2018.

Mortgage Rates

  • On average, households perceive that mortgage rates in general have risen about 40 basis points since last year, and that the rate they would be offered has risen about 30 basis points. This perception is consistent with the change in rates through December 2018, but by February 2019 rates had returned to their February 2018 levels.
  • Average expectations of future mortgage rates similarly rose about 50 basis points at both the one- and three-year horizons. Older respondents assign a higher likelihood to a mortgage rate increase than younger respondents.

Owners

  • The average expected probability of mortgage refinancing over the next year declined to 8.0%, from 8.8% in 2018.
  • The average expected probabilities of investing at least $5,000 in the home over the one- and three-year horizons remained at last year’s relatively high level. The average probability for the one-year horizon stands at 34.7%, while the corresponding value for the three-year horizon is 47.9%.

Renters

  • Renters continue to perceive obtaining a mortgage (if they want to buy a home) as difficult, with 57.9% stating that it would be “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult” to get a mortgage. This share, however, is almost 10 percentage points lower than in 2018 (67.5%), and there was an increase in the share of households thinking it would be “somewhat easy” or “very easy” to obtain a mortgage (21%, compared to 17% in 2018). These movements were most pronounced among older renters and those with incomes below $60,000.
  • Renters continue to report a strong preference for owning homes. The share of renters who report preferring or strongly preferring to own instead of rent (if they had the financial resources to do so) stood at 71.5%, higher than in 2018 and close to the 2016 and 2017 levels. The bounce-back in preferences to own was driven by renters aged 50 and older.
  • Similarly, renters’ average stated probability of owning a primary residence at some point in the future increased to 52.4% from 49.5%, with the increase strongest among older renters.

About the SCE Housing Survey
The SCE Housing Survey, fielded annually as part of the Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE), provides rich and high-quality information on consumers’ experiences, behaviors, and expectations related to housing. Among other things, the survey collects data on households’ home price growth perceptions and expectations; intentions regarding moving and buying a home in the future; and perceptions of credit conditions. For homeowners, the survey collects detailed information on their mortgage debt, past actions and experiences such as foreclosure or refinancing, and expectations regarding future actions, such as taking out new debt or investing in the home. For renters, the survey elicits preferences for owning versus renting, and perceptions regarding the ease of obtaining mortgage credit, among other things.

More information about the SCE survey goals, design, and content can be found here.

Contact
Brian Manning
(212) 720-6143
brian.manning@ny.frb.org