Housing economists and industry watchers looking for the recovery now have a new report to decipher: the Obama administration’s housing scorecard.
HUD and Treasury jointly launched the initial report on Monday, offering it as an indicator of the government’s success in stabilizing the housing market.
“This scorecard will allow the American people to monitor the administration’s efforts to strengthen the housing market on a monthly basis and hold the government and industry accountable,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “Demonstrating the progress in the housing market due to the administration’s policies, this month’s report provides a broad set of indicators showing encouraging signs of recovery.”
For builders, the most useful part of the scorecard may be the “Housing Market Fact Sheet” in the full report, which aggregates housing statistics from a variety of sources: first-time buyer activity from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the Census Bureau, and HUD; foreclosure actions from RealtyTrac, and home sales and housing activity from HUD, the Census, and NAR; and more.
The monthly report also provides details on the progress of the government’s mortgage modification and foreclosure prevention programs.
The Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP), for example, has since April 2009 counseled nearly 3.6 million borrowers, with 1.2 million receiving trial mortgage modifications under HAMP. (Only loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are eligible for HAMP modifications.)
HOPE Now, the alliance of private mortgage lenders and servicers as well as nonprofits and other similar organization, has modified the 1.2 million borrowers’ loans in the same time frame, according to the new scorecard.
However, the numbers of seriously delinquent mortgages remain staggering at more than 4.4 million in May 2010, according to the report. That figure includes prime, subprime, and FHA loans.
As the foreclosure and home price crisis continues, some have questioned the success and value of the HAMP program. They point to the difficulty for many borrowers in obtaining permanent modifications, redefaults among borrowers who do receive loan mods, and the ongoing cost of subsidizing the housing market in this way.
Alison Rice is senior editor, online, at BUILDER magazine.