The national Housing Scorecard compiled by HUD was released today, detailing a smaller number of foreclosure starts and increasing sales among existing homes in July.
While the report's highlights weren't all positive, most indicators seem to be moving in the right direction. The only exception came from new home sales, which fell in June and were retroactively revised downward for the month of May.
Otherwise, the Scorecard reveals an economy that is recovering slowly-but-surely with corrections being spread out over time. Home price appreciation is still occurring but the rate of change is slowing down, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's (FHFA) statistics. The Home Price Index increased by 0.4 percent in July to bring the total change up to 5.5 percent in the twelve months prior. That 0.4 percent rate marks the fifth month of moderating price gains in housing. The Case-Shiller index, which tracks 20 different cities, revealed that home prices are back to the same levels they were in September 2004.
Further, foreclosure starts and completions are still on a downward trajectory. June 2014 saw an 18 percent year-over-year reduction in starts, or a 4 percent reduction when viewed month-over-month. To draw a comparison once again to pre-crisis statistics, the numbers have hit an almost nine-year record low. Foreclosures that were completed in June were also down by a significant amount, having fallen 24 percent year-over-year from June 2013.
Lastly, for borrowers who were at risk of falling behind on their mortgages, federal policies and programs continued to rack up mortgage refinances and modifications through June. Approximately 2.1 million "homeowner assistance actions" took place between 2009 through to the end of June 2014, with more than half of those actions consisting of "permanent modifications" made possible by the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). These numbers come in addition to private refinances administrated by lenders affiliated with HOPE Now, which reported 4.1 million modifications by the end of May 2014.
The Scorecard also reported information about the metro area comprising the cities of Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington, which is being presented as a poster child for the recovery and for certain federal programs. Urban renewal projects in these cities are rehabilitating structures to become rental properties while an advertising campaign about HAMP refinances is attempting to draw greater and greater numbers of homeowners into refinances.