By Peter Ricci
Amidst a closely-watched and increasingly divisive presidential election season, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released the Obama administration’s latest Housing Scorecard, a measure of the U.S. housing market that highlighted a number positive developments in what is slowly shaping up to be a housing recovery.
And indeed, the housing market is being watched closer now than at any time since 2008, as both President Obama and Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, aim to utilize the market’s progress for their respective campaigns for the presidency.
HUD Housing Scorecard – Improving Picture for President Obama
The Housing Scorecard provides a broad overview of many facets of the housing market, and with the way the market has turned in the last couple months, it would seem to benefit the reelection hopes of President Obama:
- On account of rising home values, homeowner equity increased by $406 billion, or 5.9 percent, in the second quarter of 2012, and in all of 2012, equity has gone up by $860 billion.
- As a result, 1.3 million families have risen out of negative equity, and homeowner equity is now at its highest level since the third quarter of 2008.
- The government has also continued its activity on the modification front; so far, according to the Housing Scorecard, more than one million homeowners have received permanent modifications through the HAMP system, saving approximately $539 on their monthly mortgage payments and an estimated $15 billion to date.
Housing and the Election – Talking Points Galore
Of course, such statistics are a gift to President Obama, what with Mitt Romney’s campaign presenting a different vision on housing from that of the president. The first presidential debate, in particular, was a forum for the candidates’ housing policy, as Romney and Obama exchanged views on how housing finance should be regulated in the post-boom economy.
And if history is any indicator, the second debate, which takes place Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in New York, will be an even better stage for a housing policy debate. Though the first debate was centrally moderated by PBS’ Jim Lehrer, the second debate will utilize a town hall format, where the questions will be submitted by the audience, which will feature undecided voters specifically chosen by Gallup. And given housing’s importance on the economy, it’s more than likely that a question about it will sneak its way in to the debate.