April 16, 2012

Earlier this month, the Obama Administration released its March Housing Scorecard.  The report shows that although the housing market remains in a delicate state, declining foreclosure rates and an increase in existing home sales indicate signs of stability.

According to the report, the average mortgage interest rate for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages declined again, reaching a record low of 3.99 percent.  The interest rate is down from 4.89 percent one year ago and 5.10 percent in December 2008.  Existing home sales held steady at 382,000 for the month of February, marking the strongest January and February in existing home sales since 2007.  Sales of new homes also held steady above 26,000 for the first two months of the year.

The mortgage delinquency rate for February declined for prime, subprime, and FHA-insured loans, while the number of seriously delinquent mortgages also dropped for all three categories.  The number of foreclosure completions also dropped, from 66,500 in January to 63,800 in February, although the report warns that increased foreclosure activity is expected in the coming months as firms begin to process foreclosures that were delayed before the mortgage servicing settlement.

Along with the Housing Scorecard, the Department of Treasury also released the February 2012 Making Home Affordable Performance Report.  According to Treasury, 22,263 homeowners were granted permanent modifications in the month of February, for a total of 970,000 homeowners since the start of the program.  Homeowners with modifications in Treasury's programs, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), are currently saving a median of $534 per month.  Since June 1, 2010, 85 percent of homeowners entering the HAMP program have received a permanent modification, and the number of active trials lasting longer than six months is at an all-time low of 15,815, down from 190,412 in May 2010.