The Obama administration’s Housing Scorecard for November showed an improving housing market, with home prices remaining strong and foreclosures falling. But the administration cautions in the report that the recovery remains “fragile.”
Economic and job growth and rising home prices “have helped to reduce foreclosure starts to levels not seen since 2005,” says Kurt Usowski, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s deputy assistant secretary for economic affairs. “And although the number of home owners ‘underwater’ … 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.”
The scorecard reviews housing data to gauge the health of the housing market.
Existing-home sales dropped in November, but remained strong over last year’s numbers (426,700 in November 2013 compared to 402,500 in November 2012), according to National Association of REALTORS® data.
New-home sales also posted year-over-year gains: 37,000 in October 2013, up from 30,400 in October 2012, according to U.S. Census and HUD data.
Inventory levels of existing homes inched up slightly in November to a 5-month supply compared to a 4.9-month supply in October, NAR reports. But inventory levels are down from a 5.2-month supply last year.
The inventory of new homes for sale took a big fall, to a 4.9-month supply in November compared to a 6.4-month supply in October, the Census bureau and HUD report.
“Although the housing market has largely recovered, there are still home owners struggling, and it is key that we continue to help them,” says Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary Tim Bowler.
The government’s foreclosure mitigation programs are providing some relief to struggling home owners. For example, more than 1.8 million home owner assistance actions have taken place through the Making Home Affordable Program. Home owners who have taken part through the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program have saved on average about $547 monthly on their mortgage payments — nearly a 40 percent savings from their previous payment.
View the full Housing Scorecard at www.hud.gov/scorecard.