Obama scorecard shows foreclosures still weighing on market
Although home prices have risen the past four months, housing data still offer mixed signals as the market remains under pressure from foreclosures and distressed sales, the Obama administration said in its September Housing Scorecard Report. "We're encouraged by the continued decline in mortgage defaults and recent trend in home prices, but we have much more work to do to help the market recover and to reach the many households across the nation who still face trouble," said Raphael Bostic, assistant secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In August, more than 25,000 homeowners received a permanent modification through the administration's Home Affordable Modification Program, bringing the total of HAMP modifications to 816,000, according to the administration. That's a far cry from the 3 million to 4 million homeowners the program was initially meant to help. While sales of existing homes rose almost 8% in August to more than 419,000, the number of foreclosure actions also surged to 78,900, according to the report. The scorecard highlighted the administration's goal of giving more households access to refinancing at the historically low mortgage rates. Originations of refinancing mortgages fell to 851,300 in August from 919,100 in July, according to the report. "As the president announced in his recent speech to Congress, to help responsible homeowners, we must make it easier for more people refinance at interest rates that are now near 4%," Bostic said. "That alone can put more than $2,000 a year in a family's pocket, and give a lift to our still-struggling economy." Write to Liz Enochs.