The Obama White House released its latest Housing Scorecard yesterday, and the report provides a sweeping view of many of the various components of the housing market, from sales, to refinancing to inventories.
Developed and released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the scorecard is intended to track the progresses of the President’s various housing initiatives.
On the sales spectrum, existing-home sales were up in December, though new home sales were down. Inventories, however, continued to improve, declining from 3.2 million in the second quarter to 2.4 million in the fourth quarter; that drop was coupled with a fall in units held off the market, which fell from 3.9 million in the first quarter to 3.6 million in the fourth quarter. What remains to be seen, though, is if foreclosures – which have been stymied in recent months by backlogs and consumer complaints – will increase in 2012 and correct those inventory declines.
The scorecard also included some positive information about the Home Affordable Modification Program, an initiative that, despite initial goals of helping 4-5 million homeowners modify their loans, has been bogged down by numerous factors and has, thus far, only aided more than 909,000 homeowners.
Of those 909,000, though, the White House had good news. Eighty-four percent of those homeowners have received permanent modifications, after an average trial period of 3.5 months, and after six months in the program, more than 94 percent of those homeowners remained in their permanent modification.
Other findings of the scorecard included:
- Consumer expectations on home values, though low, remain above 2009 levels.
- While existing-home inventories continued to fall, the number of homes held off the market remained relatively high.
- Mortgage rates and housing affordability continue to follow an inverted relationship, with rates continuing to fall and affordability continuing to soar.
- Demand for Federal Housing Administration financing remains incredibly high, bordering on historic; after spending much of the 2000s with no more than 10 percent of the mortgage loan market, FHA financing lept to 45 percent of the market in 2010 and 35 percent in 2011.