Real Estate Market

Federal housing scorecard a mixed bag

(12/31/2010) ERATE Exclusive - Housing figures from the Obama Administration reveal a continued fragile housing market, but greater affordability and, temporarily, fewer foreclosures.

A week after a scathing federal report all but called a portion of the administration's housing relief efforts a failure, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury said the Administration's efforts have helped millions remain in their homes, but "much work remains to be done."

The Administration's "December 2010 Housing Scorecard" features data on the health, or lack thereof, of the housing market including:

• Foreclosure starts and completions dropped significantly in November, due largely to lenders reviewing questionable internal procedures related to foreclosure processing. Delayed foreclosures led to a 21 percent drop in foreclosure activity in November. The report concedes the decline is likely to be temporary until lenders put delayed foreclosures back into the pipeline.

• The expiration of the home buyer tax credit pushed new and existing home sales below early 2010 levels, as home prices and home equity declined as well, "at this fragile stage of the recovery," the report said.

• More than 3.9 million mortgage aid offers were initiated between April 2009 and the end of October 2010, more than double the number of foreclosure completions during that time. These actions included some 1.4 million Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) trial modification starts, 600,000 Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions, and 1.8 million proprietary modifications under HOPE Now.

"Since taking office in 2009, the Administration's efforts have helped millions families stay in their homes and helped millions more refinance, but the data clearly show that the market remains extremely fragile. That's why we're continuing to focus on successfully implementing the programs we've put in place - such as additional refinancing assistance and emergency loans to help unemployed homeowners - and ensuring that help is available to homeowners as early as possible," said HUD Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic.

Each month, the Housing Scorecard incorporates key housing market indicators and highlights the impact of the Administration's housing recovery efforts.

The Congressional Oversight Panel's recent "December 2010 Oversight Report: A Review of Treasury's Foreclosure Prevention Programs," told a different story.

It said the Obama Administration's mortgage modification program failed to reach sufficient numbers of home owners facing foreclosure and likely will never achieve a third of it's original goal.

Charging the government's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) program is fraught with mismanagement and conflicts of interest, the panel said HAMP will likely only achieve 800,000 or fewer permanent modifications. The U.S. Treasury's HAMP was launched in 2009 in an effort to stop 3 to 4 million targeted foreclosures.


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