Friday Five: Housing Market Less Bad, Freddie Helps Unemployed Owners

A few signs of life in the housing market top our latest roundup of home ownership headlines.

The Obama Administration’s latest Housing Scorecard showed some housing market improvements. And a Wall Street Journal commentary espies opportunity in the housing market despite sour conditions. Is convalescence afoot? Meanwhile, Freddie Mac announced it would continue to suspend or reduce mortgage payments for unemployed home owners. See what all of this means for you in our latest roundup of top headlines.

HouseLogic: Federal Housing Scorecard Shows Improving Market

The Obama Administration’s most recent Housing Scorecard — a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market — shows subtle improvements in the market over the past year, but a mixed outlook going forward.

WSJ MarketWatch: 12 Housing Themes for 2012

Come December, when we look back at how the housing market fared in 2012, this won’t be a year remembered for how bad it was, but for how bad it wasn’t. Over the course of the six-year housing correction, immense amounts of risk have been bled out of the market to a point where, in general, opportunities for good investments outweigh the risk of further losses. Here are 12 themes for housing in 2012, and while not all represent rosy optimism, they support my continued view that housing bears are seven years late to the party. And while bulls may be early, the good ones always are.

CBS News: Freddie Mac Offers a Break to Unemployed Home Owners

Unemployed home owners will be allowed to suspend or reduce mortgage payments for as long as a year under a new policy announced by mortgage finance firm Freddie Mac on Friday. The new rules take effect on Feb. 1.

Washington Post: As Consumer Credit Scores Plunged in 2008-2009, Lenders Raised Their Standards

How big a whack did your credit score take during the grim years of economic distress following the housing bust? Was it 20 points, 50 points, 100 points — or maybe no drop at all? These are key questions affecting millions of potential home buyers who hope to qualify for mortgages as well as current owners looking to refinance. New research from a major credit-risk evaluation company suggests that the drop in huge numbers of Americans’ scores was dramatic.

HouseLogic: Perilous to Tinker with Home Ownership Programs, Voter Survey Finds

Washington may be having trouble finding bipartisan consensus, but a new survey has pinpointed one area where likely voters — Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, Occupiers — agree: home ownership and many of the government programs that support it are important enough to affect elections.