The most recent Housing Scorecard from the White House recognized a number of key improvements that occurred in February, but noted that the real estate industry remains fragile.
According to real estate data from the scorecard, the existing homes market improved last month, after it declined from an estimated 2.32 million to 2.31 million. However, even though the existing-home inventory decreased, it was noted that home prices and the current sales rate still remain well below pre-housing market collapse levels.
Meanwhile, it was found that at the current sales rate it would take 6.1 months to get through the existing-homes inventory, while is would take an estimated 5.6 months to turn over the increasing number of new homes for sale. This is the thinnest the new-home inventory has been since 2006.
Although the sales rate showed slight improvements, it was indicated that it remains in a fragile position. However, as current homeowners opt out of putting their homes on the market in pursuit of newer real estate, mortgage records show that many of them are capitalizing on affordable mortgage loan rates to lower their monthly payments with the assistance of government-sponsored programs.
"Since April 2009, more than 13 million homeowners have taken advantage of our refinance programs,"said Department of Housing and Urban Development assistant secretary Raphael Bostic. "Following enhancements to the Home Affordable Refinance Program, another 300,000 families have already started the process of refinancing and stand to save on average $2,500 per year - the equivalent of a good-sized tax cut."
As a result of fewer properties hitting the market, the number of new homes sold in January fell to roughly 26,800 at the end of 2011, down from 27,000 in December 2010. In contrast, the number of existing-home sales edged higher to 380,800 in January.
Meanwhile, as the foreclosure process unthaws after remaining frozen throughout much of 2011, the scorecard noted that foreclosure starts inched higher to roughly 58,400 in January, from 58,300 the previous month. During the same period, foreclosure completions also increased to a total of 66,500 from 61,800 at the end of 2011.
However, during the course of 2012, there could be fewer foreclosures, as the mortgage delinquency rate fell to 4.2 percent in January from 4.7 percent a year earlier.