The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released its monthly Housing Scorecard, which indicated that despite an increase in foreclosures for the month of October, the housing market is still on the path of progress.
“Looking back on November, we witnessed notable progress among key indicators: a continued increase in existing home sales and an uptick in home values,” says HUD’s Katherine O’Regan. “While housing is being reenergized, there is still a need to support programs that help more hardworking, responsible Americans recover from the Great Recession.”
According to the scorecard and data from ATTOM Solutions, 43,352 U.S. properties in October started the foreclosure process, which was an increase of 25 percent from September but still a decrease of 11 percent from 2015.
Additionally, HUD reports that the data indicates 34,288 U.S. properties in October completed foreclosure. This was an increase of 25 percent month-over-month but, again, a decline from the year prior, specifically of 6 percent.
“Foreclosure activity has been volatile in recent months as states with a substantial pool of foreclosure inventory move to reduce the backlog,” adds the report.
To combat the risk of foreclosure, HUD reports that over 10.9 million mortgage modifications and other forms of mortgage assistance arrangements were completed between April 2009 and the end of October 2016.
The scorecard reports that through the Making Home Affordable Program over 2.7 million homeowner assistance actions have taken place. HUD’s adds that this includes over 1.6 million permanent modifications through HAMP. Further, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has offered nearly 3.4 million loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions through October, according to HUD.
“These Administration programs continue to encourage improved standards and processes in the industry, with lenders offering families and individuals more than 4.8 million proprietary modifications through September,” says HUD. “Although there is good news overall, the Administration remains committed to helping more Americans realize their dream of home ownership through an improving economy and new programs that will provide greater access to credit.”
The foreclosure crisis is finally nearing an end, at least according to Bill Emmons, an Economist and Assistant VP with the St. Louis Fed in conjunction with the St. Louis Fed’s quarterly Housing Market Conditions report.
Emmons says that while some states are still taking a longer time than others to hit pre-crisis foreclosure and delinquency levels, the end is near, perhaps as soon as the first quarter of 2017. He adds that the condition of current mortgage borrowers is once again comparable to the period just before the Great Recession and the onset of the foreclosure crisis in the fourth quarter of 2007.
“However it is defined, the mortgage foreclosure crisis will go down as one of the worst periods in our nation’s financial history. For the nation as a whole, the crisis will have lasted almost a decade—about as long as the Great Depression,” says Emmons. “The conclusion that the foreclosure crisis has been a long, miserable experience for many is unavoidable. And many Americans continue to suffer lasting financial, emotional and even physical pain as a result of their experiences during this time. However, a look at the data today shows that, at least, the end is in sight.”
Emmons adds that in looking deeper at regional and state levels, some areas have experienced severe recessions and housing crises worse than the nation as a whole. In contrast, however, he notes that other metros have suffered less, resulting in a wide range of foreclosure-crisis experiences.
Further the report says that an analysis of the states that comprise the St. Louis Fed’s Eighth District (Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee) show each of the states entered their respective foreclosure crises during 2008-2009. Emmons says this is somewhat later than the nation as a whole, but by the third quarter of 2016, six of the seven District states had exited their respective crises, with Illinois expected to follow by the end of 2016.
“For most states in the Eighth District, the slightly shorter duration of their foreclosure crises, when measured against their own data trends, has been offset by higher average rates of serious mortgage distress seen even in non-crisis periods,” says Emmons.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is funding an additional $20 million for the fifth year of his Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), according to a recent report from the Office of the Attorney General. If that isn’t enough, the report also says that Schneiderman is launching the Foreclosure Rescue Scam Prevention Initiative, a new grant program that will enhance outreach, education, and referral services for homeowners at risk of fraudulent foreclosure rescue schemes.
“New York has led the nation in developing innovative ways to address the fallout from the foreclosure crisis -- including the Homeowner Protection Program, so folks wouldn’t lose their homes because they didn’t have access to an attorney,” said Schneiderman. “Now, with foreclosure rescue scams on the rise, we are enhancing HOPP’s capacity to empower our most vulnerable homeowners to avoid becoming victims of these scams.”
In addition to these funds, the report adds that the Office of the Attorney General is committing another $350,000 in new grants through the Foreclosure Rescue Scam Prevention Effort to housing organizations across New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley.
“With this new funding from the New York Attorney General’s Office, community organizations will have additional tools to fight back against scammers exploiting financially vulnerable homeowners,” said Christie Peale, the Executive Director of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “When people lose their houses to fraud, there are devastating personal costs, but also repercussions felt across our neighborhoods as more and more affordable homes are taken from the market.”
Since the birth of the Homeowner Protection Program in 2012, the Office of the Attorney General reports that over 70,000 families have received free assistance to avoid foreclosure through the program, which has funded a statewide network of nearly 90 housing counseling and legal services organizations over the past four years.
“I commend the Attorney General's initiative to assist and protect our most vulnerable constituents through the Homeowner Protection Program, community outreach and education campaigns. Far too many homeowners have been hit with these foreclosure rescue scams, and as these scams grow in prevalence and sophistication, so must our efforts to combat this criminal activity and protect our most vulnerable citizens,” said Assemblyman Walter Mosley (D-New York).
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