November 10, 2015

Measuring Progress in the Housing Market

Photo: Construction workers build a new home.

Our latest housing scorecard gives us a closer look at our nation’s housing market recovery, the performance of the Administration’s foreclosure mitigation programs, and areas for improvement. As we look back on October, we saw continued progress in our nation’s housing recovery.  The latest data show progress among key indicators, including growing strength in existing home sales and a continued upward trend in home values. Although this scorecard notes that the housing market is on a healthy trajectory, we must stay committed to helping American families and homeowners.

Let’s take a closer look:

  • Sales of previously owned (existing) homes rebounded in September to their second highest level since February 2007. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes (including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and cooperatives) rose 4.7 percent in September to 5.55 million (SAAR) and have now remained above the 5 million mark for 7 consecutive months.  Purchases of single-family homes drove the rise in sales, with purchases of multifamily homes unchanged.  Sales are 8.8 percent above a year ago and have risen year-over-year for 12 straight months.
  • House prices continued an upward trend in August with annual house price changes settling into a 4- to 5-percent pace. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index for August showed home values rose 0.3 percent over the previous month and 5.6 percent over the previous year. The year-over-year house price gain in July was also 5.6 percent. The FHFA index shows that U.S. home values now stand just 0.9 percent below their previous peak in March 2007 and are 25.1 percent above their previous low in May 2011. Another index tracked in the Scorecard, the non-seasonally adjusted S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index, posted a monthly increase in home values of 0.4 percent in August and year-over-year returns of 5.1 percent, which was higher than in July (4.9 percent). The Case-Shiller index shows home values are at their highest levels since December 2007; house prices peaked during the housing bubble in July 2006 according to this index. (The Case-Shiller and FHFA price indices are released with a 2-month lag.)

The Administration’s programs continue to help struggling homeowners. Nearly 10 million mortgage modifications and other forms of mortgage assistance arrangements were completed between April 2009 and the end of September 2015, including nearly 2.5 million homeowner assistance actions through the Making Home Affordable Program, more than 2.9 million through the Federal Housing Administration’s loss mitigation programs, and nearly 4.6 million proprietary modifications through August (data are reported with a two-month lag).

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:

Katherine O’Regan is the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy Development & Research.

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