As we look back on October, we witnessed progress in our nation’s economic recovery, including a rise in total employment numbers to above pre-recession levels and a drop in the unemployment rate to 5.8 percent. This headway translated into some of the positive trends we are seeing today in the housing market. We measure the health of the housing market through several important tools; one particularly powerful one is HUD’s monthly Housing Scorecard, which shows how well our programs are serving the American people and where we can make improvement—because as many Americans continue to recover from the Great Recession, much more can be done.
Encouraging reports show that new home sales were 17 percent higher in October than they were at this time last year—reaching a new six-year high. Sales of previously owned (existing) homes bounced back in September to their highest pace in a year with single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and cooperatives selling at a pace of 5.17 million—up 2.4 percent from August.
It is clear that the Administration’s programs continue to help struggling homeowners nationwide. More than 8.9 million mortgage modification and other forms of mortgage assistance arrangements were completed between April 2009 and the end of September 2014, including more than 2.2 million through the Making Home Affordable Program, nearly 2.5 million through the Federal Housing Administration’s loss mitigation programs, and over 4.2 million proprietary modifications through lenders participating in the HOPE Now Alliance.
In addition to illustrating nationwide trends, the October Housing Scorecard features a spotlight on market recovery in the St. Louis, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area. The impacts of the foreclosure crisis and the Great Recession were less severe in the St. Louis MSA than in some areas of the nation, but the MSA’s recovery from the crisis and subsequent recession has been slower than for the nation.
The share of mortgages at risk of foreclosure has begun to decline in St. Louis—the result of four years of modest job growth, fairly stable gains in home prices, local legislation that curtailed some foreclosure actions, and the local use of the Administration’s mortgage assistance programs. Since the April 2009 launch of the Administration’s assistance programs, nearly 66,200 homeowners in the St. Louis metropolitan area have received mortgage assistance. The St. Louis MSA has also benefitted from $23.8 million in Neighborhood Stabilization program funds which have helped local communities that were hard hit by foreclosures.
Although there is good news overall, the 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 a brief overview of the October Housing Scorecard. For more information about the health of the housing market and how Administration programs are helping families please visit: www.hud.gov/scorecard.
Katherine O’Regan is the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development & Research.