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May Housing Shows Rebound in Sales of New and Existing Homes

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New and existing home sales are on the up and up, according to a recently released housing scorecard from theU.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The May edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard—a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market—shows positive overall trends in the housing market.

“May’s Housing Scorecard shows that the housing market recovery is picking up after the harsh winter months,” says HUD Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research Katherine O’Regan. “More homeowners have positive equity, foreclosures continue their downward trend, and sales of new and existing homes are rebounding. While these are all good signs, it’s clear that we must remain committed to helping homeowners as they recover from the worst housing recession since the Great Depression.”

“The standards set by the Making Home Affordable program have significantly changed the mortgage servicing industry,” says Treasury Acting Assistant Secretary Tim Bowler. “Treasury is committed to holding servicers accountable to these standards, and as a result has seen continued improvement by the largest servicers.”

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:

Homeowners’ equity shows another strong gain. According to the Federal Reserve, homeowners’ equity was up nearly $795 billion in the first quarter of 2014, reaching more than $10.8 trillion, the highest level since the second quarter of 2007.  Homeowners’ equity has risen sharply since the beginning of 2012, with equity up 73 percent, or nearly $4.6 trillion through the first quarter of 2014.  The change in equity since April 1, 2009 now stands at more than $4.7 trillion.

In the first quarter of 2014, more than 300,000 borrowers returned to a position of positive equity in their homes. According to CoreLogic, the number of underwater borrowers (those who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home) has fallen 48 percent–from 12.108 million to 6.284 million—lifting more than 5.8 million homeowners above water from the beginning of 2012 through the 1st quarter of 2014. Approximately 12.7 percent of residential properties with a mortgage are still underwater, however.

Foreclosure starts continue their downward trend.  Lenders started the public foreclosure process on 49,240 U.S. properties in May, down 10 percent from the previous month and down 32 percent from one year ago to the lowest level since December 2005—a 101-month low (although foreclosure starts were up from a year ago in 12 states). (Source: Realty Trac)

Purchases of new homes rebounded in April after declining for four out of the previous five months.New home sales were up 6.4 percent to 433,000 (SAAR) in April, following a 407,000 pace in March, but were down 4.2 percent from one year ago. (Source:  HUD and Census Bureau).

Sales of previously owned (existing) homes rose in April for the first time this year. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reported that existing homes—including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and cooperatives—sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 4.65 million in April, up 1.3 percent from March but still 6.8 percent below the 4.99 million pace a year-earlier. The weakness in sales reflects low inventory, strict bank lending standards, fewer distressed properties on the market, and less favorable housing affordability.

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 8.3 million mortgage modification and other forms of mortgage assistance arrangements were completed between April 2009 and the end of April 2014. More than 2.0 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 2.3 million loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions through April. The Administration’s programs continue to encourage improved standards and processes in the industry, with HOPE Now lenders offering families and individuals more than 4.0 million proprietary modifications through March (data are reported with a 2-month lag).

For more information, visit www.hud.gov/scorecard.

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