March 3, 2011 (Shirley Allen)
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury has released the February edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard. The latest housing figures show increased existing home sales as home affordability remains high, but officials caution that the market remains fragile, as prices are unsettled.
The Scorecard reports existing home sales ticked upward in January, but remained below levels seen in the first half of 2010. Since April of 2009, record low mortgage rates have helped more than 9.5 million homeowners to refinance, resulting in $18.1 billion in total borrower savings. However, home prices remain unsettled at this fragile stage of the recovery.
Additionally, mortgage delinquencies continued a downward trend compared to early 2010. Foreclosure starts and completions remain below peak, however as lenders review internal procedures related to foreclosure processing, many foreclosure actions have been delayed. The decline is likely to be temporary as lenders eventually revise and resubmit foreclosure paperwork in the coming months.
More than 4.2 million modification arrangements were started between April 2009 and the end of January 2011 – more than double the number of foreclosure completions during that time. These actions included nearly 1.5 million HAMP trial modification starts, more than 730,000 FHA loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions, and more than 2 million proprietary modifications under HOPE Now. While some homeowners may have received help from more than one program, the number of agreements offered was more than double the number of foreclosure completions for the same period (1.8 million)
“In the face of the deepest economic recession and housing crisis in decades, the Obama Administration has taken unprecedented action to promote stability in the market – keeping millions of families in their homes and helping millions more to save money by refinancing. But the data clearly show that the market remains extremely fragile,” said HUD Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic. “While we cannot stop every foreclosure, we know that many responsible homeowners are still fighting to make ends meet. Through the broad range of programs this Administration has put in place, we can put help in reach to those homeowners as early as possible.”
“Our housing market remains fragile. We know this from data, but homeowners across the country can feel it too. That’s why this Administration remains committed to helping eligible homeowners avoid foreclosure where it makes economic sense to do so,” said acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Tim Massad. “Every month, HAMP continues to help tens of thousands of additional families in a cost-effective manner. And by setting affordability standards and developing a framework for how mortgage servicers provide assistance to struggling families, HAMP has established critical protections for homeowners and has catalyzed improvements in modifications industry-wide.”
To read the Scorecard and view all the available data, click here.
Tags: HUD, Treasury, existing home sales, home affordability, low mortgage rates, refinance, mortgage modifications, FHA, housing market, HAMP