The Obama Administration's February Housing Scorecard, just released, harkens back to those not so thrilling days of yesteryear, using data from several sources to contend that the housing recovery is in a lot better shape today than conventional wisdom thought it would be.

The Scorecard says its House Price Expectations Chart was updated in February 2013 by replacing market expectations as they existed in January 2009 with expectations as of December 2011.  Prices of futures purchased on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for the S&P/Case-Shiller 10-City Composite Index were used to estimate expectations for December 2011 and for the current month.  The market trend as of January 2009 is estimated from percentage changes in house price futures based on the RadarLogic RPX.   


Projections from 2009 and 2011 show house prices in early 2014 were expected to be at around $140 and slightly over $150 respectively.  The actual March 2014 report on the Case-Shiller 10-City Composit4 is expected to place prices slightly above $175.  At the same time three other major indices, the Case-Shiller 20-City Composite, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Purchase Only Index, and CoreLogic's Housing Price Index all place current prices at indexes of around $200,000.

Most of the information contained each month in the Scorecard, prepared by the Treasury Department, is a summary of data on home sales, delinquencies and foreclosures, interest rates, and construction activity, most of which has been reported on previously by MND.  Included by reference is a report from the Making Home Affordable Program (MHA) and the handful of initiatives that operate under that umbrella including the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA), the second lien modification program (2MP) and the Unemployment program (UP).  The report this month focused on 2MP.

2MP provides modifications and extinguishments on second liens when there has been an eligible first lien modification on the same property.  Since the program started MHA has initiated 129,674 2MP modifications and 81,953 of those modifications are currently active.  Since the January report 3,127 second lien modifications have been initiated.

Since inception 33,672 of the second liens brought to the program have been fully extinguished representing a median value of $60,275.  Second lien modifications including partial extinguishments total 10,262 and the median amount of the lien extinguished is $9,875.  There have been 10,203 modifications disqualified.

MHA says that homeowners with an active permanent modification under the program are saving a median of $152 per month on their second mortgage which brings median savings on first and second liens to $784 or 42 percent of the pre-modification payment.  Where the second mortgage is fully extinguished those first and second lien savings rise to a median of $1,047 or 53 percent of the pre-modification total.

HAMP, the flagship MHA program, has now initiated 2.17 million trial modifications since the program began in April 2009 and homeowners continue to enter the program; 10,184 did so since the January report.  There are 50,798 modifications in active trial status.   

The MHA report says that through the end of February the Treasury department has sponsored 91 outreach events through which 76,000 homeowners have had the chance to meet with their mortgage company and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved housing counselors.  These events have taken place in 57 cities with a total of 31 events in Florida and California and six each in Nevada and Arizona.

Other borrower outreach has included the referral of over 2.3 million homeowners for counseling with a HUD approved counselor, 184 million page views at the MHA website, and 4.5 million borrower calls handled by the HOPE NOW hotline.  Mortgage servicers have sent a total of 10.6 million solicitations to their borrowers offering mortgage assistance.