The Department of the Treasury has released the White House's January Housing Scorecard, which claims that the market had a mixture of positive and negative news throughout the month.
According to the report, home prices and sales transactions were weak during the month. However, it also noted that there was a significant improvement in the nation's home inventory and the rate of foreclosure.
"While we should be encouraged by the positive trends on inventories and foreclosure starts, the mixed overall outlook means that we must remain diligent to improve conditions in the nation's housing market," said Department of Housing and Urban Development assistant secretary Raphael Bostic. "Responsible homeowners shouldn't have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief."
The report indicated that the national inventory level dipped from 3.2 million in the second quarter of 2011 to nearly 2.4 million during the final quarter of the year. In addition, the number of homes sitting vacant off the market also declined, falling from 3.9 million to 3.6 million during the same period.
Meanwhile, average home prices edged lower to $138,500 in November 2011 from $140,300 the previous month, according to data from the most recent Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Due to the pairing of more affordable prices and low mortgage rates, there was an increase in existing-home sales at the end of 2011, rising to roughly 384,200 transactions, the Scorecard noted.
Additionally, there were fewer foreclosures in December - falling to 58,300 during the month from 71,700 in November. However, foreclosure completions edged higher, as lenders restarted the foreclosure process in the wake of a near halt in the wake of the robosigning process nearly a year ago.
"The administration's programs continue to offer real relief for homeowners while setting standards that have led to more sustainable assistance to prevent foreclosures," said Treasury assistant secretary for financial stability Tim Massad. "The recent enhancements we have announced will bring further assistance to homeowners, renters and their communities as our nation continues to heal from an unprecedented housing crisis."
The report noted that according to mortgage records the number of mortgage originations for the purchase of new homes decreased to 431,500 during the course of 2011, but as more current homeowners took advantage of government-sponsored mortgage programs, nearly 1.3 million borrowers were able to refinance their home loans during the fourth quarter of 2011.