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Administration Reports Improvements from Housing Market, Servicers

The housing market showed signs of progress across the board, but the overall recovery is still fragile, hence the need for efforts to prevent avoidable foreclosures, according to the Obama Administration's ""Housing Scorecard"":http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/initiatives/Housing_Scorecard for February.


Jointly released by ""HUD"":http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD and ""Treasury"":http://www.treasury.gov/Pages/default.aspx, the scorecard offers a comprehensive view of the housing market based on public and private sector data.

""House prices are steadily rising above the mid-crisis lows in markets throughout the country, while inventories of new and existing homes are further tightening, and even estimates of the 'shadow inventory' are down,"" said HUD deputy assistant secretary for economic affairs Kurt Usowski. ""That said, we still remain considerably below long-term normal levels of home sales and production.""

So far, the administration's efforts through the Making Home Affordable (MHA) Program have led to more than 1.5 million homeowner assistance actions, including 1.1 million mods through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). In addition, data through December showed HOPE Now lenders have offered 3.4 million proprietary mortgage modifications.

On average, borrowers who received HAMP mods saved about $546 on their monthly mortgage payments.


The scorecard also reported 69 percent of homeowners with eligible non-GSE mortgages received a principal reduction with their HAMP mods.

Homeowners also avoided foreclosure through the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA), which has helped 114,000 homeowners exit their homes through a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

The ""Making Home Affordable Program Performance Report"":http://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/financial-stability/reports/Pages/Making-Home-Affordable-Program-Performance-Report.aspx, which assesses servicer performance, was also released in conjunction with the scorecard. The servicers assessed in the report were Bank of America, CitiMortgage, GMAC, Homeward Residential, JPMorgan Chase, Ocwen, OneWest, Select Portfolio Servicing, and Wells Fargo.

Servicers were found to show continued overall improvement, with two servicers determined to need only minor improvement on the areas reviewed, while seven servicers were found to need moderate improvement.

The report revealed the nine major servicers are getting better at evaluating homeowners for MHA program eligibility. According to the report, the ""second look disagree"" category, which is the rate Treasury's program reviews disagree with a servicer's decision to find a homeowner ineligible for assistance, was below 2 percent in the fourth quarter.

Mortgage servicers continued to show accuracy when calculating homeowner income when determining homeowner program eligibility. In the fourth quarter, the average income calculation error rate for the top servicers was below 2 percent, and three servicers had a zero percent income calculation error rate. Treasury's benchmark is for the error rate to be under 5 percent. Only Homeward Residential had a rate higher than the benchmark.

""The Administration continues to improve outcomes for homeowners seeking mortgage relief by setting new standards for customer service and holding mortgage companies publicly accountable,"" said Treasury assistant aecretary for financial stability Tim Massad. ""As a result, struggling families today have stronger consumer protections and more sustainable options to avoid foreclosure.""

About Author: Esther Cho


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