Stability Key Feature in Obama’s April Housing Scorecard

by Houston Agent

Housing faired pretty well on the Obama White House's latest scorecard, with stability being a big takeaway.

Greater stability and sales activity were the big takeaways from the Obama White House’s latest Housing Scorecard, a detailed report on the nation’s housing market.

Released in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the scorecard features data on prices, home sales, inventories, consumer expectations and the composition of the nation’s loan market – all of which trended in positive territory.

Home prices, which have been mostly running sideways since 2009, remained flat for the month, but the scorecard did highlight how influential the distressed market has been on the nation’s home values. In a chart that separated the home price indices from S&P (the Case-Shiller) and the FHFA, the scorecard also included the results from CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index (HPI), which excludes distressed sales in its initial findings. Between the Case-Shiller and the HPI, there was a difference of more than $20,000 in home values. Consumer expectations on prices continue to grow, though, and are currently at their highest level since 2009.

Also interesting was the scorecard’s findings for inventories, a topic we have covered extensively in recent months. The supply of new homes was 5.3 months in April, and for existing homes, the supply was 6.3 months. Six months is typically considered a healthy balance for the housing market, and many analysts have targeted the declines in inventory as one of the more positive developments in 2012 housing, especially as banks work their way through their inventory of distressed homes. The scorecard also mentioned another interesting detail regarding inventories – there are currently four million single-family properties that are being held off the market, meaning homes the owners would like to sell but are waiting for home values to recover. That’s the highest level since 2003.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of the scorecard was devoted to the various programs and initiatives the Obama administration has issued to assist housing. Since April 2009 5.9 million mortgages have been modified through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), Hope Now Modifications and FHA Loss Mitigation. Specifically, there have been 1.8 million trial modifications started in HAMP, 2.8 million proprietary modifications through Hope Now and 1.3 delinquency interventions by the FHA.

Raphael Bostic, the assistant secretary of HUD, said the programs are making progress toward their goals of aiding homeowners.

“We’re making important progress in providing relief to homeowners under the Obama Administration’s programs,” he said. “With fewer borrowers falling behind on their mortgages and almost half a million families taking advantage of our enhanced Home Affordable Refinance Program – standing to save on average $2,500 per year – it’s clear that the Administration’s efforts continue to provide significant positive benefits.”

As of March, more than 990,000 homeowners received a permanent HAMP modification, saving approximately $535 on their mortgage payments each month with a total estimated savings of $12.2 billion to date, and the latest analysis by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency found that HAMP modifications continue to exhibit lower delinquency and re-default rates than industry modifications.

Tim Massad, the treasury assistant secretary for financial stability, also spoke to the programs’ successes.

“The Administration’s programs have helped millions of homeowners achieve sustainable mortgage assistance to prevent foreclosure,” Massad said.  “The standards these programs have created continue to prompt the mortgage industry to provide improved outcomes for homeowners more broadly.”

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