Measuring progress in the housing market

HUDBy Kathy O’Regan | U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Official Blog

HUD’s monthly housing scorecard is our most important tool for tracking the health of the housing market. It shows how effectively our programs are serving the American people and where there is room for improvement. In August, we saw positive overall trends in the housing market, but it’s clear many American families and homeowners are still recovering from the Great Recession.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key indicators we are tracking.

Some of the positive trends we are seeing include the sale of existing homes, the downward trend of foreclosure starts and completions, and growing homeowner equity.

Sales of previously owned (existing) homes rose in July for the fourth consecutive month to the highest level this year, although sales are still below the pace a year ago.

Foreclosure starts and completions continue their annual downward trend. Lenders started the public foreclosure process on 49,624 U.S. properties in July, up 5 percent from the previous month but down 18 percent from one year ago and lenders completed the foreclosure process (bank repossessions or REOs) on 25,937 U.S. properties in July, which are down 30 percent from one year ago.

Homeowners’ equity continues to show strong gains and has now reached more than $10.8 trillion.

On the other hand, the sales of new homes are lagging behind.

The main weakness in the housing recovery continues to be purchases of new homes, which fell again in June although they were higher than a year ago. New home sales declined 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 412,000 in June, but were up 12.3 percent from one year ago. The pace of new home sales was the slowest in four months. Construction starts for single family homes have not fully rebounded yet from last winter’s lows as tight credit may be driving some supply shortages.

It’s also clear that 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 8.7 million mortgage modification and other forms of mortgage assistance arrangements were completed between April 2009 and the end of July 2014. These include homeowner assistance actions through the Making Home Affordable Program, which includes the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offering loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions, and HOPE Now proprietary modifications.

Although there is good news overall, the Obama Administration remains committed to helping more Americans realize their dream of home ownership through an improving economy and new programs that will provide greater access to credit.

This is just an overview of the August Housing Scorecard, but you can dig deeper into the housing market numbers and learn more about how Administration programs are helping families at

Kathy O’Regan is the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research.

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September 2014