November 9, 2016

Measuring Progress in the Housing Market

Housing Score Card

Our latest housing scorecard provides a detailed look at the recovery of our nation’s housing market and the success of the Obama Administration’s programs. In October, we witnessed progress among key indicators including a rebound in both new and existing home sales and the lowest level of foreclosure starts since May 2005. While the housing market is being reenergized, there is still a need to support programs that help more Americans recover from the Great Recession.

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

  • Purchases of new homes rebounded in September. New single-family home sales rose 3.1 percent in September to 593,000 (SAAR) from a revised 575,000 pace in August and were up 29.8 percent over a year earlier. New home sales have averaged 564,000 (SAAR) so far in 2016, well above the 501,000 annual rate for all of 2015. Monthly data on new home sales can be volatile and are often revised. (Source: HUD and Census Bureau).
  • Sales of previously owned (existing) homes rose after declining for two consecutive months. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reported that sales of existing homes (including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and cooperatives) rose 3.2 percent in September to 5.47 million (SAAR) from 5.30 million in August and were 0.6 percent higher than a year ago. Sales were propelled by an increase in the share of first-time homebuyers to 34 percent—matching the highest rate since July 2012. Existing home sales have averaged 5.40 million (SAAR) so far in 2016, moderately above the 5.25 million annual rate for all of 2015.
  • Foreclosure starts fell in September to the lowest level in more than eleven years. Lenders started the public foreclosure process on 34,685 U.S. properties in September, a decrease of 13 percent from August and down 20 percent from a year earlier. Newly initiated foreclosures have not been this low since May 2005.  Lenders completed the foreclosure process (bank repossessions or REOs) on 27,514 U.S. properties in September, a decrease of 12 percent from the previous month and 32 percent from a year ago. This is the lowest level of foreclosure completions since February 2015. Year-over-year foreclosure completions declined for 27 consecutive months before starting to increase in March 2015; they began to decline again in March 2016. The pre-crisis average of foreclosure completions was 23,120 properties a month. Foreclosure activity has been volatile in recent months as states with a substantial pool of foreclosure inventory move to reduce the backlog. (Source: ATTOM Data Solution; formerly RealtyTrac).

The Administration’s programs continue to help struggling homeowners. In all, more than 10.9 million mortgage modifications and other forms of mortgage assistance arrangements were completed between April 2009 and the end of September 2016.  More than 2.7 million homeowner assistance actions have taken place through the Making Home Affordable Program, including more than 1.6 million permanent modifications through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), while the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has offered nearly 3.4 million loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions through September. These Administration programs continue to encourage improved standards and processes in the industry, with lenders offering families and individuals more than 4.8 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 and Research.

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