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January Housing Scorecard – Data Reveals Mortgage Help Reaching Struggling Middle Class, Underwater and Minority Homeowners

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RISMEDIA, February 2, 2011—The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury released the January 2011 edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard. The latest housing figures show increased new and existing home sales as home affordability remains high, but officials caution that the market remains fragile, as prices are unsettled. Foreclosure starts and completions remained low at the year’s end, as lenders continue to review internal servicing procedures.

“Over the last 20 months, the Obama Administration has confronted the nation’s housing crisis with an unprecedented effort 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. “We know that many responsible homeowners are still fighting to make ends meet. That’s why we’re committed to continuing to provide help to homeowners by implementing the broad range of programs the Obama Administration has put in place.”

“Before the launch of the Administration’s programs, little was done to offer meaningful assistance to homeowners struggling to deal with the worst housing crisis in generations. The data released today demonstrates that the Administration’s programs are reaching middle income homeowners and providing them with real payment relief,” said acting Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Tim Massad. “While we cannot prevent every foreclosure, it is important to remember that these programs have helped to create more options for affordable and sustainable assistance than have ever been available before.”

Each month, the Housing Scorecard incorporates key housing market indicators and highlights the impact of the Administration’s housing recovery efforts, including assistance to homeowners through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The January Housing Scorecard features key data on the health of the housing market including:

-New and existing home sales increased in December, but remained below levels seen in the first half of 2010. Record low mortgage rates continue to keep home affordability at record high levels. However, home prices remain unsettled at this fragile stage of the recovery.

-As lenders review internal procedures related to foreclosure processing, many foreclosure actions have been delayed leading to a lower level of foreclosure activity in December than in prior months. The decline is likely to be temporary as lenders eventually revise and resubmit foreclosure paperwork in the coming months.

-More than 4.1 million modification arrangements were started between April 2009 and the end of December 2010—more than double the number of foreclosure completions during that time. These actions included more than 1.4 million HAMP trial modification starts, more than 650,000 FHA loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions, and nearly two 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 (1.7 million).

-Homeowners in HAMP permanent modifications continue to perform well over time, with re-default rates lower than industry norms. December data for the Making Home Affordable Program (MHA) shows that after 12 months, nearly 85% of homeowners remain in a permanent modification. Homeowners in HAMP permanent modifications have already reduced their mortgage obligation by more than $4.5 billion to date.

In a continued commitment to enhanced reporting and transparency, the Administration also released the Making Home Affordable Data File which includes characteristics of program participants to date, including financial information, mortgage loan information before and after entering HAMP, performance in a HAMP modification, and race/ethnicity data. The MHA Data File offers mortgage loan-level data and is intended to allow for better understanding of the impact of the program.

Key findings that emerged from a preliminary analysis of the MHA Data File include:

-To date, most program participants are moderate and middle income, financially-distressed homeowners who are “underwater” on their mortgages. Borrowers in active permanent HAMP modifications have a median annual income of approximately $46,000; a median credit score of 570 upon entering the trial period; a post-modification loan balance of just over $232,000 and a median mark-to-market loan-to-value (LTV) of 118%.

-Of borrowers reporting race and ethnicity, African-Americans account for 18% of active permanent modifications and Hispanics account for 26%.

-Homeowners in active permanent modifications have seen their monthly mortgage payment cut by a median of approximately 40%. Eighteen percent of homeowners in active permanent modifications have reduced their monthly mortgage payment by more than $1,000 each month.

For more information, visit www.hud.gov.

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