OBAMA ADMINISTRATION RELEASES APRIL HOUSING SCORECARD

WASHINGTON- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury today released the April edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard – a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market. Data in the April Housing Scorecard show some promising signs of stability, though the overall outlook remains mixed. Mortgage delinquencies have declined for four consecutive months and remain substantially below year ago levels, while sales of existing homes in the first quarter were 5.3 percent higher than one year ago. Data on home prices were soft in many mortgage markets, though adjusting for the traditionally slow winter months reveals the first uptick in prices since April 2011. The full report is available online at www.hud.gov/scorecard.

February Housing Scorecard Spotlights Chicago

The Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Treasury released the February edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard on Friday.  The 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 evaluations have been previously covered by MND. 

As an overview, the report says that the data for February shows “some promising signs of stability” although the overall outlook is mixed and there is continued fragility in home prices.  Mortgage delinquencies are still declining and are well below the levels of a year ago.  Sales of existing homes have started out the year at the strongest levels since 2007.

There has been some progress with the housing overhang.  The supply of homes on the market continued to decline in February and there is now a 6.1 month supply at the current rate of sales.  The inventory of new homes is even lower at 5.6 months, the lowest since 2006.  However, despite existing home sales reaching the highest level since May 2010, home prices changed little from the previous month, marking a fifth month of seasonal lows. 

HUD Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic said of the scorecard, “The data this month show that we’re making important progress in providing relief to homeowners under the Obama Administration’s programs. With fewer borrowers falling behind on their mortgages and some 425,000 families taking advantage of our enhanced Home Affordable Refinance Program – standing to save on average $2,500 per year – it’s clear that the Administration’s efforts continue to provide significant positive benefits.  But 1 in 5 Americans still owes more than their home is worth. That’s why the Administration’s recent proposals are critical to promoting healing in the market. Our efforts to ramp up economic development in fragile neighborhoods and to expand homeowner access to low-interest refinance options reflect our commitment to turning these markets towards growth. That is why we are asking the Congress to approve the President’s housing proposals so that more homeowners can receive assistance.”

Each month the Scorecard spotlights a different housing market and the current edition focuses on market strength in Chicago, Illinois and its surrounding communities. The Chicago metro area was one of the hardest hit areas in the nation following the housing market downturn and HUD says the Administration has been active in trying to stabilize the market.  Its efforts, the Scorecard says, have helped more than 220,000 families in the area avoid foreclosure. 

Sales of bank-owned properties and short sales remain high at 35 percent of sales in the market compared to 29 percent nationally which leads to continued weakness in local prices.  Foreclosure processing takes an average of 575 days so properties stay in the pipeline 50 percent longer on average than in other cities.

Illinois has received more than $400 million through the Hardest Hit Fund and approximately $265 million has been awarded to 12 jurisdictions through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to help purchase or redevelop residential properties and address the effects of abandoned and foreclosed housing. Both programs have helped provide stability to the Chicago housing market.

The Housing Scorecard usually incorporates by reference the monthly report of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and related remediation programs.  That report however is now issued bi-monthly and not yet available for February.  

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OBAMA ADMINISTRATION RELEASES MARCH HOUSING SCORECARD

WASHINGTON- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury today released the March edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard – a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market. Data in the March Housing Scorecard show some promising signs of stability, though the overall outlook remains mixed. Mortgage delinquencies continued a downward trend and were substantially below year ago levels, while sales of existing homes in January and February marked the strongest start to a year since 2007. However, data on home prices changed little from the previous month – marking a fifth month of seasonal lows. The full report is available online at www.hud.gov/scorecard.

Provident and Condos; Startling Utah Stats; Promising Signs for US Economy – Will Rates Creep Up?

Yes, Wells
Fargo’s CEO’s was on CNBC this morning talking about the mortgage markets. Investor
news is rarely “headline grabbing,” but also this morning Provident Funding, often the nation’s
leading wholesale operation, turned some heads and notified brokers this
morning ahead of this three day weekend, “Effective immediately for new
locks, condominiums are now unacceptable properties except for high rise
condominiums located in Chicago, Honolulu, San Francisco and Seattle. Existing
locks will be honored and allowed lock extensions. Please refer to the updated
Program Guidelines for complete details.” (Editor’s note: I received it
from a few folks – I hope it is not some kind of prank.)

The land
of Alta & Snowbird, the Bonneville Salt Flats, mountain bike riding in
Moab, and… Nearly 1 in 10 borrowers delinquent or in default? Utah, where the
first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant opened in 1952, has some startling
stats
.

Mortgage
folks don’t know whether to hope the Greek and European problems are solved.
Fiscal soundness is a great goal, especially for a nation. But the problems
over there nudge investors to buy U.S. securities, keeping demand and prices
high and thus rates low. And now we have this headline: “Japan’s debt levels
have ballooned to a level that makes Greece look like a steward of capital.
Wall Street has noticed, and it’s placing its bets”. Uh oh.

“The GSEs are exercising their near-monopoly power in harmful ways: Freddie Mac
and Fannie Mae have reduced lending and increased fees. They have continued to
sue banks and taken steps to reduce competition in originating mortgages.” Say it
ain’t so
!

For commercial real estate fans,
Wells Fargo sent out some mixed news…

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