The cessation of the government program to buy mortgage-backed securities, set to end in a couple of months, will show whether the White House and Federal Reserve have effectively stimulated the lending market to the point that it is now on solid footing.

If the sector slumps again, home owners could face a new period of distress.

Keeping mortgage rates at record lows was a major component of the economic strategy during President Obama's first year in office. While it did not garner the kind of headlines that efforts to bail out banks did, the policy did help revitalize home buying in parts of the country and assisted millions of home owners who were able to refinance.

Source: Washington Post, David Cho, Neil Irwin, and Dina ElBoghdady