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Grades self on a bit of a curve

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The March edition of the Obama Administration's housing scorecard grades itself pretty highly despite some key indicators that should raise concern.

In February, foreclosure starts continued their downward trend and, in January, house prices remained stable. Not noted were that the pace of mortgage applications is approaching historic lows, which indicates a slowdown in homebuyer demand.

“While there is good news in the March Scorecard, it’s clear the housing market is still in the recovery phase of the cycle,” said HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs Kurt Usowski.  “Overall, with home sales slowing, too many homeowners still underwater, and mortgage delinquency rates remaining high compared to historic norms, we must sustain our  efforts to encourage continuing recovery in the housing market and help responsible homeowners.” 

The HAMP program continues to provide assistance to struggling homeowners, with more than 1.3 million homeowners receiving permanent modifications through HAMP.

Other highlights:

  • House prices remain stable. As of January 2014, the Federal Housing Finance Agency purchase-only house price index rose 7.4% from last year and ticked up 0.5% (seasonally adjusted) from December. Other reports show mortgage apps at near 14 year lows.
  • Foreclosure starts are at their lowest level since the end of 2005.  Newly initiated foreclosures, at 51,842 U.S. properties, were down 9% from January and 27% from one year ago.
  • A total of 30,307 U.S. properties were repossessed by lenders in February, virtually the same as January.

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