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Government Scorecard: Housing Markets Still Fragile

The ""Department of Treasury"":http://www.treasury.gov and ""HUD"":http://www.hud.gov jointly released the Housing Scorecard for May on Thursday, finding that housing markets remain fragile with a seven-month stretch of declining home prices.

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According to HUD, the ""Housing Scorecard"":http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2011/HUDNo.11-117 is a monthly report that tracks housing and economic data across residential and commercial housing markets. The May edition of the scorecard called housing prices weak, noting only a minor boost for sales in April.

""The housing data in this month's Scorecard offer continued mixed signals and some signs of weakness in the market ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô despite growing evidence of progress in the broader economy,"" a HUD press release quoted Raphael Bostic, assistant secretary, as saying. ""The administration remains committed to helping all homeowners who have been hit hard during this housing crisis.""

The Housing Scorecard comes on the heels of other industry data sources that report weak home prices, citing a lackluster economy, slow job growth, and tight credit quality.

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Earlier this week the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) ""released a study"":https://themreport.com/articles/survey-mortgage-applications-down-nationwide-2011-06-08 that found adjustable-rate, fixed-rate, and conventional mortgage loan applications falling by 0.4 percent nationwide.

_The Wall Street Journal_ tied the decline in applications to tight credit conditions, reporting a lack of equity in homes among 24 percent of the nation's mortgage borrowers.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve added its own assessment by ""publishing the Beige Book"":https://themreport.com/articles/index/fed-residential-real-estate-weak-commercial-market-improving-2011-06-08, which detailed ""widespread weakness"" in commercial and residential real estate markets across all 12 districts. The assessment held that weak job growth contributed to weakness in the markets.

Underscoring low housing prices, the Federal Housing Finance Agency's House Price Index (HPI) ""posted a 2.5 percent drop"":https://themreport.com/articles/home-price-index-sees-sharp-quarterly-drop-2011-05-26 in the first quarter of 2010, making it the sharpest decline in housing prices since 2008. The unadjusted national decline was 3.5 percent, the sharpest in seven months.

Bostic called attention to the effects of the housing crisis in Phoenix, Arizona, citing weak job growth as the reason for a declining population that continues to impact the markets.

According to a new ""spotlight"" feature of the ""Housing Scorecard"":http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=PhoenixScorecard.pdf, population growth in Phoenix residential markets slowed to a mere 0.2 percent with the onset of the financial crisis in 2007 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a far cry from the 28 percent growth that started to characterize Phoenix in 2000. Coinciding with slower population growth, employment rates suffered steep declines in late 2007 and now grow only by 0.6 percent, trailing even national job creation.

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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