June 9, 2016

Measuring Progress in the Housing Market

New affordable homes.

HUD’s housing scorecard provides a monthly snapshot of our nation’s housing market and measures how the Administration’s initiatives are serving Americans. Looking back on May, we witnessed notable progress among key indicators: sales of new and existing homes hit high levels and newly initiated foreclosures have remained below the pre-crisis monthly average for more than a year now. While housing is being reenergized, there is still a need to support programs that help more Americans recover from the Great Recession.

Here’s a look at some of the top trends:

  • April purchases of new homes surged to the highest pace in eight years. New home sales climbed 16.9 percent in April to 610,000 (SAAR)–the highest level since January 2008–and were 23.8 percent above a year earlier. In addition, March sales, at 531,000 units, were stronger than previously reported. New home sales have been higher than the 500,000 mark for the past six consecutive months. Monthly data on new home sales can be volatile, however, and are often revised. (Source: HUD and Census Bureau).
  • Sales of previously owned (existing) homes reached a three-month high in April. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes (including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and cooperatives) rose 1.7 percent in April to 5.45 million (SAAR) from a 5.36 million pace in March and were 6.0 percent higher than a year ago. Sales in the Midwest jumped 12.1 percent to a 1.39 million pace; purchases were also up in the Northeast. Existing home sales have been above the 5.0 million mark for 13 of the past 14 months.
  • Foreclosure starts and completions fell in April. Lenders started the public foreclosure process on 43,793 U.S. properties in April, a decrease of 8 percent from March and 15 percent from a year earlier. Newly initiated foreclosures have been below the pre-crisis (2005 and 2006) monthly average of 52,280 for more than a year. Lenders completed the foreclosure process (bank repossessions or REOs) on 33,518 U.S. properties in April, a decrease of 1 percent from the previous month and 26 percent less than a year ago. This is the second annual decline in foreclosure completions in the past 14 months.

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 10.5 million mortgage modifications and other forms of mortgage assistance arrangements were completed between April 2009 and the end of April 2016.  More than 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 3.2 loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions through April. These Administration programs continue to encourage improved standards and processes in the industry, with lenders offering families and individuals more than 4.7 million proprietary modifications through March (data are reported with a two-month lag).

This is just a brief overview of the May 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 and Research.

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