Housing Improves in Key Areas, but Homeowners Still Need Assistance
By: Esther Cho
In the Obama administration’s assessment on housing, the market was described as showing “important progress across many key indicators” but the millions of underwater homeowners calls for a need to provide homeowner assistance, according to the May housing scorecard released jointly by Treasury and HUD.
“As the May housing scorecard indicates, the Obama Administration’s policies and actions over the last four years to speed housing recovery are continuing to show important signs of progress,” said Kurt Usowski, HUD deputy assistant secretary for economic affairs.
For example, homeowners’ equity grew by more than $815 billion in the first quarter of 2013, and home prices rose to the highest level since 2006 in April.
“Despite the positive news, we have important work ahead since there are so many families and individuals still ‘underwater’ with mortgage balances higher than their home’s value,” he added.
To aid the recovery and assist struggling borrowers, the administration decided to provide a two-year extension for
the Making Home Affordable program (MHA), which includes the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).
According to the most recent estimates, nearly 1.2 million homeowners have received a modification through HAMP. Homeowners who have been modified were able to reduce their monthly payments by a median of $547.
Another program under MHA that received an extension was the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program, which has helped about 154,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure through a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.
“Making Home Affordable provides standards and accountability for the mortgage industry that will now help additional homeowners avoid foreclosure through 2015,” said Tim Massad, Treasury assistant secretary for financial stability.
To review large servicers who are taking part in the program, Treasury assesses major servicers in three categories: identifying and contacting homeowners; homeowner evaluation and assistance; and program reporting, management and governance.
According to the most recent Making Home Affordable Program report, servicers have improved their ability to effectively evaluate homeowners in 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. Among top servicers, the average second look disagree rate was under 1 percent in the first quarter of this year, according to the report.
Servicers also improved their ability to accurately calculate a homeowner’s income when assessing eligibility for a modification, with top servicers averaging an income calculation error rate below 2 percent.
Since its launch, DS News magazine has positioned itself at the forefront of an
evolving industry. Always current with the most up-to-date
default servicing news, DSNews.com keeps you informed through daily Web casts,
community forums, and a wide range of industry resources.