Fannie Mae Expects Housing Activity to Increase Throughout Year 

According to the latest Fannie Mae Economic and Strategic Research Group (ESR) blog post, existing home sales and new single-family housing starts are expected to grow modestly in 2024, amid lower mortgage rates and increasing homebuyer sentiments. 

The February commentary from the ESR found that while housing affordability is still seriously constrained following the home price run-up of the past few years, the supply of existing homes available for sale is ultimately showing recent signs of loosening. 

Additionally, more households have recently signaled that they expect mortgage rates to decline, as evidenced by Fannie Mae’s most recent Home Purchase Sentiment Index indicating newfound optimism that my signal an increased openness to moving to a new home. 

Latest Forecast from Fannie Mae

The ESR Group’s latest forecast sees mortgage rates falling to 5.9% by the end of 2024 and 5.7% by the end of 2025, both slight upticks compared to last month’s forecast. Additionally, it expects single-family starts to trend upward in 2024 despite the pullback this past month, as permits have increased for twelve consecutive months and demand for new homes remains robust. 

Looking at macroeconomic growth, the ESR upgraded its 2024 predictions do to a stronger-than-expected fourth quarter GDP report as well as incoming data on recent population growth and immigration trends that point to faster payroll and GDP growth over the forecast horizon. 

Still, the ESR Group continues to expect a slower pace of economic growth in 2024 compared to 2023. 

Also, consumers are saving their money at a relatively low rate which suggests softer consumer spending going forward, a typical trend normally seen in with the after-holiday pullback in January retail sales which will slow local and state tax receipts point to slower direct government spending growth. 

Further, while payroll growth looks to have reaccelerated in December and January, other labor market measures indicate softness, including the household survey and the quits rate. On net, this suggests to the ESR Group that the labor market is likely to cool soon. 

“Market dynamics continue to reflect significant uncertainty regarding the sustainability of stronger-than-expected recent GDP growth, the continuity of the decline of inflation, and the path of monetary policy change, not to mention the many ways in which historical relationships in housing and the larger economy remain out of balance post-pandemic,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “Right now, our base case scenario foresees economic growth decelerating, rates gradually declining, and new single-family home sales slowly recovering as construction adds supply. However, if economic growth continues to surprise to the upside, then we believe the risk of mortgage rates remaining higher for longer will also increase.” 

Click here to read all the ESR’s research in its entirety. Click here for past predictions.

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Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for MortgagePoint. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at kyle.horst@thefivestar.com.
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