The housing market has made notable gains in recent months in terms of home prices, foreclosures, and new-home construction, but government officials caution that the economy is not yet back to normal.
The Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard for February takes note of rising new-home construction (purchases rose 9.6 percent in January, the highest pace since mid-2008) as well as dropping foreclosures and stabilizing home prices. Each month the scorecard provides a snapshot into the nation’s housing market, as well as a performance overview of some of the administration’s housing programs, such as the Making Home Affordable Program.
Home owner equity soared to more than $400 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, reaching more than $10 trillion for the first time since 2007, the report notes. Also, HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program—which helps communities repair foreclosed and abandoned homes—has completed or rehabilitated 32,000 units and provided direct assistance to 10,800 home owners.
“This encouraging news does not detract from the need to build on this progress as too many home owners remain underwater and mortgage delinquency rates remain elevated,” says Kurt Usowski, HUD deputy assistant secretary for economic affairs.
The report highlights the administration’s loan modification programs performance. More than 1.9 million home owner assistance actions have taken place through the Making Home Affordable Program, including more than 1.3 million permanent loan modifications through the Home Affordable Modification Program (or HAMP), and nearly 2.2 million loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions have occurred through the Federal Housing Administration through January.
“While the housing market as a whole has made significant progress, [mortgage] servicers still have room for improvement and Treasury will continue to press the industry to improve servicer performance,” says Tim Bowler, Treasury’s acting assistant secretary.