Fannie Mae chops outlooks for housing in 2014, 2015

MarketWatch

Mortgage-finance giant Fannie Mae slashed its outlook on Monday for housing market this year and next, reasoning that too much momentum was lost during the first half of the year.

In its August forecast, Fannie said it expects construction starts for single-family homes to hit 642,000 in 2014, down about 8% from its July forecast of 696,000, according to the company's monthly releases. Likewise, Fannie cuts its outlook for new single-family homes sales in 2014 by 11% to 431,000 from 486,000.

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Rising mortgage rates, bad winter weather and consumer "conservatism" are all hitting the housing market, said Doug Duncan, Fannie's chief economist.

"With respect to housing's contribution to growth this year, we have downgraded our outlook following the disappointing housing activity seen during the first half of the year," Duncan said. "We currently estimate that 2014 will finish lower in total sales figures than 2013 – and that 2015, while stronger than 2013 and 2014, will not be the breakout year some are expecting."

Fannie on Monday downgraded its monthly forecasts for 2014 sales of previously owned (or "existing") home sales, and cut 2015's expectations for home-construction starts and sales.

Fannie's downbeat take on the housing market contrasts with actual builders, who, according to separate data released Monday, are the most confident they've been since the year started. Builders are more optimistic about current and upcoming sales of single-family homes, thanks to job growth and relatively low mortgage rates, among other factors.

Tuesday morning the government will report on housing starts for July, and economists polled by MarketWatch expect construction to recover, jumping to an annual rate of 975,000 from June's surprisingly slow pace of 893,000, which was a nine-month low.

--Ruth Mantell



 



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