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Fannie Mae's Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) faltered a bit in July as it tried to recover from its 29.5-point aggregate plunge in March and April. The index, derived from six questions on the National Housing Survey (NHS), decreased 2.3 points in July to 74.2. Three of the components deceased from June levels, led by a significantly more pessimistic view of homebuying conditions. The HPSI is down 19.5 points from its July 2019 level. The percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to buy a home decreased from 61 percent to 53 percent, while the percentage who say it is a bad time to buy increased from 27 percent to 38 percent. As a result, the net share of Americans who say it is a good time to buy decreased 19 percentage points to 15 percent.
There was a significant decline in the number of active COVID-19 related forbearance plans over the past week, but that decrease did not necessarily mean homeowners were emerging from financial difficulties. Black Knight said its weekly survey found 101,000 fewer loans in forbearance, leaving just over 4 million or 7.5 percent of servicer portfolios in active plans, the smallest share since late April. Those loans represent $852 billion in unpaid principal. The company says that one reason behind the reduced number was the expiration of initial plans. It estimated that about a half million were set to expire at the end of July. An initial wave of 2.5 million expirations hit at the end of June. More than two-thirds of the plans that remain in forbearance have had their plans expanded, most for another 90 days. This will mean another wave of expirations involving about 2.2 million plans will arrive in September and October.
Foreign buyers cut back their investment in U.S. residential properties over the 12 months that ended in March. It was the second year-over-year decline. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) annual survey among its members about their transactions with international clients found foreign buyers purchased $74 billion in existing U.S. homes from April 2019 through March 2020, a 5 percent decline from the same period a year earlier. The number of properties purchased dropped 16 percent to 154,000. Foreign buyers who were U.S. residents, either as recent immigrants or holding the appropriate visas, purchased $41 billion in residential real estate, down 8 percent from the prior period. Foreign buyers living abroad spent $33 billion, a 1 percent decrease. Those two types of international buyers were responsible for 4 percent of the nation's total existing home sales of $1.7 trillion during that period.