Hard Times Persist in Housing Market

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WASHINGTON -- Hard times aren't over yet for the housing market with new home sales hitting an all-time low in February.

Spring has arrived, but the winter freeze still has a grip on the housing market. New home sales have slid to a record low, as regions that received the most snow were hit the hardest.

Home Values Tank

Meanwhile, existing home sales are at their lowest levels since last summer and home prices are following sales down.

According to the National Association of Realtors the median sales price for existing homes fell to $165,100 in February. That's down from a peak of $230,300 in July of 2006.

The housing market appeared to be improving last summer, but since autumn sales have plunged and government support offered by the Obama administration is running out.

TARP 'Meaningless'

Then there's TARP. Remember the $700 billion "Troubled Asset Relief Program" -- billed by Congress and the White House to provide some relief for the troubled housing market that triggered the recession?

Well, now TARP Inspector General Neil Barofsky is calling the program "meaningless."

"I don't think this program could be viewed as a success unless it helps a meaningful number of people, so they can stay in their homes," Barofsky told ABC News.

Last year the Obama administration said its program would help as many as 4 million homeowners facing foreclosure. However, only about 170,000 have received help. Almost 7 million homeowners are currently behind on their mortgage payments.

The Silver Lining

Bank of America, the largest mortgage provider in the country, has announced it will forgive up to 30 percent of some of its customers mortgage balances.

To qualify, homeowners must have missed at least two mortgage payments and owe at least 20 percent more than their home is worth.

However, even that move is expected to help only around 45,000 people.

As discounted foreclosed homes flood the market, home builders are struggling to recoup their construction costs - leaving construction workers in unemployment lines.

The silver lining may be for home buyers who are enjoying a good selection of homes at low prices. Also, buyers who sign contracts by the end of April get will receive an $8,000 tax credit from Uncle Sam.

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CBN News
Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.