December 8, 2015

Measuring Progress in the Housing Market

Photo: Row of homes.

Boosted by the creation of more than 13.7 million jobs over 69 straight months and the impact of the Administration’s programs, we have witnessed strong trends in our nation’s housing market in recent months.

Data available as of November show progress among key indicators, including an increase in new home sales, a healthy pace for existing home sales, and an upward trend in home values.

While our housing market is on a healthy trajectory, we must continue helping American families and homeowners recover from the Great Recession.

  • Purchases of new homes rose 10.7 percent in October but remained below the 500,000 mark. New home sales increased to 495,000 (SAAR) in October from a downwardly revised September pace of 447,000 and were 4.9 percent higher than a year earlier. New home sales have been at or above the 500,000 mark for 6 of 10 months this year. Data on new home sales can be volatile and are often revised. (Source:  HUD and Census Bureau).
  • Sales of previously owned (existing) homes maintained a healthy pace in October. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes (including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and cooperatives) fell 3.4 percent in October to 5.36 million (SAAR) following a high pace in September (5.55 million units). Existing home sales have now remained above the 5 million mark for 8 consecutive months. Sales are 3.9 percent above a year ago and have risen year-over-year for 13 straight months.
  • House prices continued an upward trend in September with annual house price changes settling into a 5-percent pace. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index for September showed home values rose 0.8 percent over the previous month and 5.6 percent over the previous year. The year-over-year house price gain in August was also 5.6 percent.

The Administration’s programs continue to help struggling homeowners. In all, nearly 10.1 million mortgage modifications and other forms of mortgage assistance arrangements were completed between April 2009 and the end of October 2015. More than 2.5 million homeowner assistance actions have taken place through the Making Home Affordable Program, including over 1.5 million permanent modifications through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), while the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has offered nearly 3.0 million loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions through October. These Administration programs continue to encourage improved standards and processes in the industry, with lenders offering families and individuals nearly 4.6 million proprietary modifications through September (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 November 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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