19 August 2014

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released the July edition of the Administration’s Housing Scorecard – a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market.  The latest data shows progress among key indicators including rebound in the sale of existing homes and the continuing downward trend of foreclosure starts and completions.

The July Housing Scorecard features key data on the health of the housing market and the Administration’s foreclosure prevention programs, including:

Sales of previously owned (existing) homes rose for the third consecutive month in June after a lackluster performance in the previous two quarters.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that existing homes—including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and cooperatives—sold at a pace of 5.04 million (SAAR) in June, up 2.6 percent from May but remain 2.3 percent below the 5.16 million pace a year-earlier.Sales are at their highest pace since October 2013 (5.13 million).
Foreclosure starts and completions continue their downward trend. Lenders started the public foreclosure process on 47,243 U.S. properties in June, down 4 percent from the previous month and down 18 percent from one year ago to the lowest level since November 2005—more than an 8½ year low. Lenders completed the foreclosure process (bank repossessions or REOs) on 26,889 U.S. properties in June, down 5 percent from the previous month and down 24 percent from one year ago to the lowest level since June 2007—a 7 year low. (Note however that foreclosure starts and completions were up from a year ago in about 15 states).
House prices appreciate in May while year-over-year gains continue to slow. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index showed home values appreciated by 0.4 percent over the prior month and 5.5-percent over the previous year, marking the fi fth straight month of more modest annual growth in home prices. The FHFA index shows that U.S. home values are on par with prices in mid-2005. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index (not seasonally adjusted) posted month-over-month returns for May of 1.1 percent and gains of 9.3 percent over the past 12 months. The Case-Shiller index shows annual rates of gain in home prices slowing over the last six months; home values are at September-2004 levels. (The Case-Shiller and FHFA price indices are released with a 2-month lag.)
Sale of new homes fell in June and sales in May were revised sharply downward. New home sales declined 8.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 406,000 in June, following sales of 442,000 in May that were 12.3 percent lower than estimated last month. Sales were at their lowest level since March and down 11.5 percent from one year ago. The weakness in sales refl ects strict bank lending standards, less favorable housing affordability, and low inventory. (Source: HUD and Census Bureau).
The Administration’s foreclosure mitigation programs continue to provide relief for millions of homeowners as the recovery from the housing crisis continues. In all, more than 8.5 million mortgage modifi cation and other forms of mortgage assistance arrangements were completed between April 2009 and the end of June 2014. Nearly 2.1 million homeowner assistance actions have taken place through the Making Home Affordable Program, including nearly 1.4 million permanent modifications through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), while the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has offered more than 2.3 million loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions through June. The Administration’s programs continue to encourage improved standards and processes in the industry, with HOPE Now lenders offering families and individuals more than 4.1 million proprietary modifi cations through May (HOPE Now data are reported with a 2-month lag).
Encouraging news notwithstanding, there is a need to continue with recovery efforts as home sales have slowed, too many homeowners remain under-water, and mortgage delinquencies rates remain elevated. There is also considerable geographic variation in market conditions not captured in the national statistics, which suggests some markets are improving at different rates than others. Given the current state of the market and recognizing that recovery will take place over time, the Administration remains committed to its efforts to prevent avoidable foreclosures and stabilize the housing market.