Home prices and sales remain fragile as foreclosure starts ticked up in January, according to the latest housing scorecard from the Obama administration.
The inventory of existing homes for sale slightly declined to 2.31 million in January from 2.32 million in December, according to data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Treasury.
At the current rate, it would take 6.1 months to turn over the supply of existing homes on the market — and just 5.6 months to turn over the stock of new homes for sale — the lowest months’ supply since 2006.
Home prices hit $136,700 on average for December, compared to $138,200 the previous month, according to Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller data cited in the scorecard.
New home sales totaled 26,800 in December, down from 27,000 a year earlier. And existing home sales hit 380,800 in January, up from 378,300 in the year-ago period. First-time homebuyer numbers grew to 203,800 in January, up from 196,000 in December, according to the scorecard.
Foreclosure starts rose to 58,400 in January, from 58,300 the previous month. Foreclosure completions rose during the same period, totaling 66,500 in January, up from 61,800.
Mortgage originations for the purchase of new homes declined to 431,500 from 498,000 in the year-ago period, but refinance originations rose to 1.3 million in the fourth quarter from 950,600 during the third quarter.
Mortgage delinquency rates dropped to 4.2% in January from 4.7% in the year-ago period.