The housing market has strengthened considerably since the end of last year, and as a result, there is now an additional $860 billion in home equity nationwide, according to the latest Housing Scorecard released monthly by the Obama administration. As a consequence, sales of existing homes in the month of August reached the highest level seen in more than two years.
"As the September housing scorecard indicates, our housing market is showing important signs of recovery -- with homeowner equity at a four-year high and summer sales of existing homes at the strongest pace in two years," said Erika Poethig, acting assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "The Administration's efforts to keep housing affordable and refinances strong are critical with so many households still struggling to make ends meet. That is why we continue to ask Congress to approve the President's refinancing proposal so that more homeowners can secure the help they need."
As a result of all the rising equity nationwide, which is now at the highest level since the third quarter of 2008, some 1.3 million homeowners are now back above water on their mortgages, the report said. In all, the number of underwater homeowners nationwide has dropped 11 percent since the end of 2011, falling to 10.8 million through the end of the second quarter from 12.1 million.
Meanwhile, efforts on the part of the federal government to aid those who are still underwater with their mortgages have been successful as well, the report said. The Making Home Affordable Program has had nearly 1.3 million homeowner assistance actions take place since its inception, and the Federal Housing Administration has extended some for loss mitigation or early delinquency interventions to another 1.4 million.
Similarly, the Home Affordable Modification Program has been helpful to more than a million consumers nationwide, reducing their mortgage payments by an average of $539 per month, allowing for a total of more than $15 billion in savings to date, the report said.
Experts say improving home prices and continued low rates on mortgages could encourage many consumers to enter the housing market for the first time in years within the next several months.
See more on Credit.com:
How Refinancing Can Affect Your Credit
Can You Really Get Your Credit Score for Free?
How a Mortgage Can Help (or Hurt) Your Credit
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