The Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Treasury released their Monthly Housing Scorecard for February on Wednesday afternoon.
This monthly report is an attempt to encapsulate the Obama Administration's efforts to stabilize the housing market and provide a snapshot of the status of that market. It contains a round-up of information from both public and private sources, most of which has already been reported here on MND. The Scorecard is issued simultaneous with the release of the monthly report on the Making Home Affordable Program (HAMP).
According to the Scorecard, the housing market remains fragile as data through January paint a mixed picture of recovery. On the sales front there was a little good news as sales of existing homes ticked up to 446,700 in January compared to 435,000 in December. New home sales, however, dropped from 27,100 to 23,700. The inventory of existing homes fell by slightly less than 200 thousand to 3.38 million while the supply of new homes was almost flat at 188,000. There is a 7.6 month supply of existing homes compared to 8.2 months in December and a 7.9 month supply of new homes as compared to 7.0 months. Over 3.6 million homes are currently vacant and held off the market for a variety of reasons. This is an increase of 45,000 since December. MND wants to know what you think...RENT OR OWN?
In a sign of positive progress, delinquency rates were notably better in February. The delinquency rate for prime loans was 4.8 percent in January compared to 6.7 percent in January 2010 and the subprime rate was 36.4 compared to 39.2 last year. FHA had a delinquency rate of 12.8 percent, down from 15 percent a year earlier. A total of 4.2 million mortgages are delinquent nationally.
Foreclosure starts and completions remain below peak, however as lenders review internal procedures related to foreclosure processing, many foreclosure actions have been delayed. The decline is likely to be temporary as lenders eventually revise and resubmit foreclosure paperwork in the coming months.
The embedded HAMP report covers data up until the end of January, which indicated a continued drop in the rate at which new borrowers are entering into trial loan modifications. In January there were 26,659 trials initiated. A total of about 1.5 million homeowners have entered trial modifications since the program started in April 2009 and 145,260 trials remain active. Of those over 36,000 have been in the three-month trial program in excess of six months. Nearly a third (12,200) of these aged loans is serviced by Bank of America which has initiated 358,726 of the total of 1.5 million trials (25 percent).
More than 600,000 homeowners have converted from trial to permanent status since the program began, 28,000 since the last HAMP report. After many complaints about the rate of conversion, program administrators claim that there has been an average of 29,000 loans converted in each of the last six months. Approximately 68,000 permanent modifications have been cancelled; about 1,000 were paid; the remaining loans were cancelled after borrowers missed three consecutive payments.
The Administration claims that, overall, its efforts have been effective in "blunting the effects of the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression." Since April 2009, in addition to HAMP's efforts there have been more than 730,000 FHA loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions, and more than 2 million proprietary modifications under the joint public/private HOPE Now program. The Scorecard says that, "While some homeowners may have received help from more than one program, the number of agreements offered was more than double the number of foreclosure completions for the same period (1.8 million)."