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HUD Scorecard: Home Prices Stabilizing

HUD has introduced a new public information report, a Monthly Housing Scorecard. This is an idea which makes a lot of sense, not only because of what it says but also because HUD includes data from both governmental agencies and the private sector in one place.

The News

To start, and given the events of the past three years this is very good news, there is now some evidence that home prices are generally stabilizing — not everywhere, not at every moment, but in a general sense. As HUD explains:

After 30 straight months of decline and an expectation of continued nearly 14 percent decline, home prices leveled off in the past year and expectations have adjusted upward.

Mortgages are more affordable: due to historically low interest rates, more than 6 million homeowners have refinanced, saving an estimated $150 per month on average and more than $11 billion in total. And more than 2.5 million families have purchased a home using the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit.

Servicers report that the number of homeowners receiving restructured mortgages since April 2009 has increased to 2.8 million. Additionally, nearly half of homeowners unable to enter a HAMP permanent modification enter an alternative modification with their servicer, and fewer than 10 percent of cancelled trials move to foreclosure sale.

However, the foreclosure prevention initiatives are not intended to help all borrowers and the market will continue to adjust for some time. The supply of homes on and off market remains near all-time highs. It will take time to work though this large inventory.


All the above information is true, however there is a somewhat different context which should be noted. The benefits from the home seller and first-time buyer tax credit are done except for certain active-military personnel who have until April 30, 2011 to qualify for the benefit.

On the matter of cancelled loan modification trials, that’s a figure which will grow. It’s a rolling number over time and the current numbers now reflect the early stages of the program.

Stable Prices

The Scorecard shows that prices have begun to stabilize nationally, something which is both statistically true but not necessarily true in given communities or metro areas. Still, HUD has dawn numbers from the Standard & Poors Case/Shiller reports as well as the information provided by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
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Credibility

The HUD scorecard is especially credible because it gathers information from various sources in one place. This saves a great deal of time for researchers and reporters, and it also includes information which in some cases is parallel and in others which is divergent and even conflicting. This happens because individual data sources have different information collection methods, timeframes and conclusions. The Scorecard presents an easy way to compare and contrast data.

So, hey, it’s good to see some stability in the real estate marketplace. And yes, HUD has come up with a useful measure of marketplace activity, something to be watched and tracked over time.

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