Shaken, Not Stirred – Obama’s Housing Scorecard a Mixed Bag

by Chicago Agent

The government's latest Housing Scorecard offers an excellent overview on where housing stands.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury released the White House’s latest Housing Scorecard, a cumulative report that assesses a wide number of factors in the housing market.

Like most housing reports, the Scorecard was a charming mix of data, both good and bad, that suggested light at the end of the tunnel for what has been a tough market for many.

 With numerous graphs, the scorecard spotlighted the following housing trends:
  • After substantial post-bubble falls and modest 2011 gains, home prices have declined slightly in recent months, though future projections for prices remain far above 2009’s predictions.
  • Both existing- and new-home sales are growing at horizontal rates, suggesting a substantial pent-up demand among prospective homebuyers.
  • A big cause for that pent-up demand is falling inventories, which are down to 2006 levels; shadow inventories, though, continue their rise, and are at the highest levels yet recorded.
  • Affordability and interest rates continue their inverse relationship; as interest rates fall to some of the lowest levels on record (just last week they eclipsed 4 percent again), the National Association of Realtors’ Affordability Index continues to climb to its own record levels.
  • Foreclosure starts are way down from 2009, but the Scorecard neglects to mention that the decline is due more to robo-signing-inspired slowdowns than a decrease in foreclosed properties.
  • Home equity is half of what it was in 2006.
  • Demand for Federal Housing Administration loans has skyrocketed by sevenfold since 2007, as more and more homebuyers are unable to secure private loans;
 The Scorecard also highlighted some of the successes of the White House’s much-maligned Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Between April 2009 and Oct. 2011, 5.4 million modifications were arranged, which have resulted in more than 880,000 modifications with median payment reductions for those modifications at 37 percent.
HAMP’s increasing success was also mentioned. Since June 1, 2010, 82 percent of homeowners who entered HAMP trial modifications received permanent modifications, saving an estimated $9.4 billion.

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