A drop in foreclosure starts and continued gains in home equity as housing prices remain stable are among the highlights of the Obama Administration’s March housing scorecard.
Foreclosure starts hit their lowest level in February 2014 since the end of 2005 to 51,842 U.S. properties, dropping 9% from January and 27% from a year prior.
With the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s purchase-only house price index up 7.4% in January 2014, home values are now on par with mid-2005 pricing. Meanwhile, the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for January saw a 13.2% jump on an annual basis despite a 0.1% drop from December.
With cumulative housing price gains, home equity has reached above $10 trillion for the first time since 2007 after gaining $412 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013.
“Homeowners’ equity has risen sharply since the beginning of 2012, with equity up 60 percent, or more than $3.7 trillion, as of the fourth quarter of 2013,” notes the scorecard, released each month by the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and the Treasury.
The March scorecard demonstrates both good news and room for improvement, says Kurt Usowski, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs, emphasizing that the housing market is still recovering.
“The good news is that homeowners’ equity is now over $10 trillion, foreclosure starts are at their lowest levels since 2005, and house prices remain stable, but the recovery is stronger in some markets than in others,” he said in a statement. “Overall, with home sales slowing, too many homeowners still underwater, and mortgage delinquency rates remaining high compared to historic norms, we must sustain our efforts to encourage continuing recovery in the housing market and help responsible homeowners.”
New home purchases dropped 3.3% on an annual basis to 440,000 in February, and sales of previously-owned homes also decreased about 7% from the previous year.
Access the March 2014 Housing Scorecard.
Written by Alyssa Gerace