The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have released the May edition of the Obama Administration's Housing Scorecard—a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market. Data continue to show important progress across many key indicators—as the annual home price increase is the highest since the housing bubble burst in mid-2006 and purchases of new and existing homes remain strong—although officials caution that a full housing recovery will take more time. “As the May housing scorecard indicates, the Obama Administration’s policies and actions over the last four years to speed housing recovery are continuing to show important signs of progress,” said HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs Kurt Usowski. “In the first quarter of 2013, homeowners’ equity grew by more than $815 billion, reaching its highest level since the first quarter of 2008. Despite the positive news, we have important work ahead since there are so many families and individuals still ‘underwater’ with mortgage balances higher than their home’s value.” Included in this month’s Making Home Affordable Program Report are detailed assessments for the largest mortgage servicers participating in the program evaluating their performance for the first quarter of 2013. These Servicer Assessments–first issued in June 2011 and published quarterly–show that servicers continue to focus attention on areas identified in previous program reviews, resulting in improved program implementation and better outcomes for homeowners. Last week, the Administration announced an extension of the Making Home Affordable Program–which includes the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)–through Dec. 31, 2015. The Making Home Affordable Program is a critical part of the Administration’s efforts to fuel the housing recovery and help homeowners avoid foreclosure. “We have kept the pressure on the mortgage industry to step up its efforts, which has helped millions of families access relief in a historic housing crisis,” said Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Tim Massad. “Making Home Affordable provides standards and accountability for the mortgage industry that will now help additional homeowners avoid foreclosure through 2015.” Since inception of the Making Home Affordable Program, Treasury has required participating servicers to take specific actions to improve their processes through ongoing program reviews. The quarterly Servicer Assessments summarize performance in three categories of program implementation: Identifying and contacting homeowners; homeowner evaluation and assistance; and program reporting, management and governance. Results for the first quarter of 2013 show that, although servicer performance can fluctuate from quarter to quarter, servicers are demonstrating continued improvement in program implementation, including: ►Servicers are more effectively evaluating homeowners under program eligibility criteria as seen in the “second look disagree” category, which reflects the rate at which program reviews disagree with the servicers’ decision to find a homeowner ineligible for assistance. In the first quarter, the average second look disagree rate for the top servicers was below one percent. ►Mortgage servicers continue to accurately calculate homeowner income, which is used to determine a homeowner’s eligibility and modified payment amount under the program. The majority of servicers have income calculation error rates below the established benchmark (with two servicers at zero percent error rates). ►All servicers will need to demonstrate progress in any areas identified in subsequent program reviews. Additionally, all servicers have been directed to strengthen implementation in a few key areas, including timely and accurate reporting of program data and ensuring the timely assignment of a single point of contact (SPOC) to homeowners. The May Housing Scorecard features key data on the health of the housing market and the impact of the Administration’s foreclosure prevention programs, including: ►The Administration's foreclosure mitigation programs continue to benefit millions of homeowners as the housing market recovers from an unprecedented crisis. More than 1.6 million homeowner assistance actions have taken place through the Making Home Affordable Program, including more than 1.1 million permanent modifications through HAMP, while the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has offered more than 1.8 million 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 more than 3.6 million proprietary mortgage modifications through March. ►Homeowners in HAMP continue to benefit from meaningful payment relief increasing the long-term likelihood of avoiding foreclosure. As of April, more than 1.1 million homeowners have received a permanent modification through HAMP, saving approximately $547 on their mortgage payments each month–a 39 percent savings from their previous payment. In April, 67 percent of homeowners with eligible non-GSE mortgages benefitted from principal reduction with their HAMP modification. ►Homeowners currently in permanent HAMP modifications have been granted an estimated $10.2 billion in total principal reduction.