The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have released the March edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard which shows some promising signs of housing market stability, though the overall outlook remains mixed. Mortgage delinquencies continued a downward trend and were substantially below year ago levels, while sales of existing homes in January and February marked the strongest start to a year since 2007. However, data on home prices changed little from the previous month—marking a fifth month of seasonal lows.
“The data this month show that we’re making important progress in providing relief to homeowners under the Obama Administration’s programs. With fewer borrowers falling behind on their mortgages and some 425,000 families taking advantage of our enhanced Home Affordable Refinance Program —standing to save on average $2,500 per year—it’s clear that the Administration’s efforts continue to provide significant positive benefits,” said HUD Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic. “But one in five Americans still owes more than their home is worth. That’s why the Administration’s recent proposals are critical to promoting healing in the market. Our efforts to ramp up economic development in fragile neighborhoods and to expand homeowner access to low-interest refinance options reflect our commitment to turning these markets towards growth. That is why we are asking the Congress to approve the President’s housing proposals so that more homeowners can receive assistance.”
The March Housing Scorecard features key data on the health of the housing market and the impact of the Administration’s foreclosure prevention programs, including:
►Market data show progress on home sales and mortgage delinquencies, but continued fragility overall. Sales of existing homes remained high in February and—with newly revised data on January sales—mark the strongest start to a year since 2007. Mortgage delinquency rates continued a downward trend and are substantially below year ago levels. In addition, foreclosure completions ticked downward last month, although increased activity is expected in the coming months as firms lift processing delays following the landmark mortgage servicing settlement reached with the five largest banks in early February.
►The Administration’s recovery efforts continue to help millions of families deal with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. More than 5.8 million modification arrangements were started between April 2009 and the end of February 2012 — including more than 1.8 million Home Affordable Refinance Program (HAMP) trial modification starts and nearly 1.3 million FHA loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions. The Administration’s programs continue to encourage improved standards and processes in the industry, with HOPE Now lenders offering families and individuals nearly 2.8 million proprietary mortgage modifications through January.
►Eligible homeowners entering HAMP continue to demonstrate a high likelihood of long-term success in the program. As of February, more than 970,000 homeowners received a permanent HAMP modification, saving more than $530 on their mortgage payments each month. Eighty-five percent of homeowners entering the program in the last 20 months have received a permanent modification, with an average trial period of 3.5 months. Homeowners in HAMP permanent modifications have saved an estimated $11.6 billion to date.