|HUD’s recently released monthly Housing Scorecard points to new home sales, homeowner participation in loss mitigation programs, and declining foreclosure starts and completions as evidence that the housing market is steadily continuing to recover from the housing crisis.
The report states new single-family home sales rose by 12.4 percent in July to 654,000, reaching the fastest pace since October 2007 and up over 31 percent from this point last year. According to the report, previously owned (existing) homes sales fell 3.2 percent in July to 5.39 million, down from 5.57 million in June and 1.6 percent lower than at this point last year. Despite the loss in momentum, existing home sales remained above 5.0 million for 16 of the past 17 months.
The Scorecard reports that roughly 10.8 million mortgage modifications and other forms of mortgage assistance were completed between April 2009 and the end of July 2016. Roughly 2.7 million loan modifications were implemented through the Making Home Affordable Program, including over 1.6 million permanent modifications through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The report deduces that the continued use of loss mitigation programs demonstrates that recovery from the housing crisis is still in progress for portions of the country.
According to the report, loss mitigation programs are having their desired effect. Lenders started the public foreclosure process on 36,863 properties in July, a 5 percent decrease from last month and a 19 percent decrease from this point last year. Foreclosure starts have been in decline for four consecutive months and have stayed below the pre-crisis monthly average of 52,280 since March 2015. The foreclosure process was completed on 27,907 properties in July, an 8 percent decrease from last month and a 41 percent decrease from this point last year.
The report concludes that despite some positive news, including new home sales and falling foreclosure starts and completions, continued effort is needed to fully restore the housing market. As an important indicator of the work still needed to be done, the report says that the recovery of housing markets is still uneven geographically, which is difficult to depict in national statistics.