April 6, 2016

Measuring Progress in the Housing Market

Photo: Row of homes.

HUD’s housing scorecard provides a monthly snapshot of our nation’s housing market and how our initiatives are serving Americans. As we look back on March, we witnessed progress among key indicators including gains in U.S. home values, a rebound in new home sales, and a sharp gain in homeowner’s equity. As confidence in our nation’s economy improves, we must continue to support efforts that will allow more Americans to achieve the dream of homeownership.

Here’s a closer look back at some of our progress:

  • Home prices continue to show gains.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index for January showed home values rose 0.5 percent over the previous month and 5.6 percent over the previous year. The year-over-year house price gain has been 5.6 percent for the past seven months. The FHFA index indicates that U.S. home values are now 1.7 percent above their previous peak in March 2007 and 28.4 percent above their low in March 2011.
  • Purchases of new homes rebounded in February. New home sales rose 2.0 percent in February to 512,000 (SAAR) following a pace of 502,000 units in January that was stronger than previously reported.  New home sales have risen in four of the last five months. February purchases were 6.1 percent lower than a year earlier, however. Data on new home sales can be volatile and are often revised. (Source: HUD and Census Bureau).
  • Homeowners’ Equity continues to rise in the fourth quarter. Homeowners’ equity (total property value less mortgage debt outstanding) was up $360 billion (3.0%) from the third quarter of 2015, for a total of nearly $12.5 trillion—the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2006.  Homeowners’ equity peaked in the first quarter of 2006 at nearly $13.3 trillion.

The Administration’s programs continue to help struggling homeowners. In all, more than 10.3 million mortgage modifications and other forms of mortgage assistance arrangements were completed between April 2009 and the end of February 2016.  Nearly 2.6 million homeowner assistance actions have taken place through the Making Home Affordable Program, including nearly 1.6 million permanent modifications through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), while the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has offered more than 3.1 loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions through February. These Administration programs continue to encourage improved standards and processes in the industry, with lenders offering families and individuals more than 4.6 million proprietary modifications through January (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 March 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 the Office of Policy Development & Research.

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