The latest housing figures show that while homes remain affordable with interest rates near record lows, the market remains fragile as prices are unsettled.
Foreclosure starts and completions fell 21 percent – the biggest month over month decrease since 2005 – as lenders review internal servicing procedures according to the Obama Administration’s December housing scorecard. The decline is likely to be temporary as lenders eventually revise and resubmit foreclosure paperwork in the coming months.
“The Obama Administration’s broad set of programs have helped promote stability for the housing market, neighborhoods, and the nation’s homeowners, but there is much more work to be done,” said HUD Assistant Secretary Raphael Bostic. “Since taking office in 2009, the Administration’s efforts have helped millions families stay in their homes and helped millions more refinance, but the data clearly show that the market remains extremely fragile. That’s why we’re continuing to focus on successfully implementing the programs we’ve put in place – such as additional refinancing assistance and emergency loans to help unemployed homeowners – and ensuring that help is available to homeowners as early as possible.”
More than 3.9 million mortgage aid offers were initiated between April 2009 and the end of October 2010 – more than double the number of foreclosure completions during that time. These actions included over 1.4 million Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) trial modification starts, more than 600,000 Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions, and nearly 1.8 million proprietary modifications under HOPE Now. While some homeowners may have received help from more than one program, the number of agreements offered were more than double the number of foreclosure completions for the same period (1.7 million). View the November HAMP Servicer Performance Report.
“While much work remains to be done to help families that have been hurt by this crisis, the Administration’s programs have benefitted many homeowners directly while setting standards for the entire industry,” said acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Tim Massad. “This is a major reason why there have been more than twice as many modifications and other foreclosure alternatives as foreclosure completions since April 2009.”
As expected with the expiration of the Homebuyer Tax Credit, new and existing home sales have remained below levels seen in the first half of 2010. However, this month’s report also shows that home prices and home equity declined moderately, as prices remain unsettled at this fragile stage of the recovery.