The May edition of the Obama administration's Housing Scorecard released today by the U.S.  Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Treasury showed a promise of growing stability in the housing market although officials cautioned that the overall outlook remains mixed.

The monthly scorecard is essentially a summary of data on housing and housing finance released by public and private sources over the previous month and/or quarter.  Most of the data such as new and existing home sales, permits and starts, mortgage originations, and various house price analyses have previously been covered by MND.

This month's scorecard is more upbeat than many of its recent predecessors.  It notes that sales of existing houses rose 2.4 percent in April and that the inventories of newly constructed houses increased for the first time since April 2007.  With sales up inventories dropped to a 5.1 month supply compared to 5.2 months in March and 12.2 months at the peak in January 2009. Distressed sales are still a big factor and serious delinquencies and underwater mortgages continue to hold back the market.

HUD Acting Assistant Secretary Erika Poethig said, "This month's indicators show promise - more than 180,000 borrowers took advantage of our enhanced Home Affordable Refinance Program in the last quarter alone and foreclosure starts are declining as more homeowners secure mortgage relief  - but with so many households still struggling to make ends meet it's clear that we have more work ahead.  That is why we are asking the Congress to approve the President's refinancing proposal so that more homeowners can receive assistance."

The May Housing Scorecard and the accompanying data from the Making Home Affordable Program (HAMP) include the results of first quarter program assessments of participating servicers.  These Servicer Assessments summarize performance in three categories of program implementation; identifying and contacting homeowners; evaluating homeowners for assistance, and program reporting, management, and governance.

In the first quarter of 2012 only three servicers were found to need minor improvement and six in need of moderate improvement.  For the second consecutive quarter, none was found to be in need of substantial enough improvement to cause for Treasury to withhold program incentives as has been done in the past.

Release of the first quarter assessments coincides with the roll-out of the expanded eligibility criteria for HAMP.  The new HAMP Tier II guidelines include eligibility for homeowners with a debt-to-income ratio below 31 percent, properties occupied by a tenant, and vacant properties which the borrower intends to rent.  Servicers began accepting applications for Tier 2 on June 1. 

The HAMP program received 122,872 requests for modifications during April and processed 84,394.  A total of 65,949 requests were denied and 18,445 were approved.  This brings the number of requests for modifications since the inception of the program to 4.7 million, 2.03 million of which were approved. 

These HAMP statistics for May were also broken down on a per-servicer basis as were program-to-date numbers.  These can be seen in their entirety here.