Groundhog Day For Housing


This post by Jill Schlesinger originally appeared on CBS' MoneyWatch.com.



Last week, the housing news was all doom and gloom. Today, the National Association of Realtors said pending home sales ticked up last month. Which is it? Take a clue from Punxsutawney Phil, who saw his shadow today - we have a lot more than six weeks to go before housing recovers.

The Washington Post reports that a wave of foreclosures is about to sweep the nation, causing potential losses at the The Federal Housing Administration (FHA). "About 9.1 percent of FHA borrowers had missed at least three payments as of December, up from 6.5 percent a year ago, the agency's figures show."

(AP)

The FHA doesn't issue mortgages, but it insures them. The agency ran afoul during the housing boom, when it insured homebuyers who never should have gotten loans in the first place. The unwind of the housing and credit bubbles has brought the US homeownership rate to early-2000 levels.

That's why the government is working overtime to prop up the housing market with the Fed's $1.25 trillion purchases of mortgage-backed securities and the first time homebuyer tax credit. Without these Herculean efforts, the housing market would be even worse off.

We invited real estate expert Ilyce Glink to join "Ask the Experts" (Click here to watch the video) to discuss the outlook for housing. Warning: it's not a pretty picture!

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(CBS)
Jill Schlesinger is the Editor-at-Large for CBS MoneyWatch.com. Prior to the launch of MoneyWatch, she was the Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. In her infancy, she was an options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York.
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    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.