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Housing improves on Obama Administration scorecard

Still not enough to ensure market sustainability

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The housing market witnessed more new home purchases and stronger home prices in November, but even with the solid improvements, officials remain weary of the stability of the recovery, the Obama Administration said in the November housing scorecard.  

"The November housing scorecard shows that the Obama Administration's continuing efforts to help responsible homeowners is having a positive effect," said the Department of Housing Urban Development Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs Kurt Usowski. 

Home prices continued their upward trajectory, with the S&P Case-Shiller home price index increasing to 165.7 in November from 164.5 last October. Year-over-year the index is up from 146.2 in November 2012.

Existing homes sales dropped again and fell to 426,700 in November from 440,800 in October, but is still significantly up from 402,500 for the same period a year prior, the latest data from the National Association of Realtors revealed.

Meanwhile, new home sales climbed to 37,000 in November, up from 29,500 in October and 30,400 October 2012, the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau and HUD said.

The supply of existing-homes for sale remained fairly stagnant, with inventory inching up to a 5-month supply in November from a 4.9-month supply in October, and is only slightly down from a 5.2-month supply last year, NAR reported.

In comparison, the supply of new homes for sale tumbled to a 4.9-month supply in November, from a 6.4-month supply in October, the Census Bureau and HUD said.

The foreclosure starts continued to digress in improvement and jumped to 58,900 in November, from 58,000 last month, RealtyTrac said in its most recent report.

Additionally, mortgage delinquency rates for prime borrowers slightly dipped after staying frozen last month and fell to 3.2% in November from 3.3% in October, Lender Processing Services announced. 

“The Obama Administration's policies, continuing economic and job growth, and rising house prices have combined to reduce foreclosure starts to levels not seen since 2005,” Usowski said.

“And although the number of homeowners 'underwater' meaning they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth is down more than 40 percent from its peak, the number remains historically elevated meaning more work needs to be done to ensure the continued stability of the housing market," he added. 

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