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Almost 1 Million Homeowners Get Government Help in 3rd Quarter

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For much of the last year, the housing market has generally been on a slow but steady path toward improvement, and that trend continued in November.

A number of federal initiatives to make consumers struggling in the housing market more financially capable seem to be working, according to the latest housing scorecard from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. For instance, in the month of November alone, federal initiatives such as the Home Affordable Modification Program helped 13,400 Americans deal obtain trial modifications for the terms of their home loans, which is down from the 15,200 who received them in the previous month. Another 16,000 received permanent modifications, though, and that was up from 13,800 the month before.

There were also 90,800 refinances through the Home Affordable Refinance Program, down from 98,900, the report said. But at the same time, mortgage modifications through the HOPE Now program increased slightly, to 60,600 from 59,500.

In all, when accounting for all the above programs as well as the Federal Housing Authority’s loss mitigation interventions, there were 972,300 counseled consumers in the latest quarter studied, up from just 420,400 in the prior three-month period, the report said. Since April 1, 2009, the total number of consumers helped through these programs stands at roughly 8.52 million.

“The Obama Administration’s efforts to speed housing recovery are showing continued progress as the scorecard indicators highlight market momentum not seen since before the housing crisis – six consecutive months of rising home prices have bolstered homeowners equity, which is now $1.5 trillion higher than in April 2009,” said HUD Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research Erika Poethig.

However, Poethig also noted that despite the improvements, millions of Americans are still struggling under the weight of their mortgage obligations, particularly on homes that have not yet returned to being right side up after slipping underwater, the report said. For this reason, she urged Congress to accept President Barack Obama’s latest proposal for rolling out more comprehensive refinancing tools for borrowers.

Experts say the housing recovery is still somewhat fragile, though home prices are still expected to appreciate at least through the end of next year. This might be a boon to struggling homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than their property is worth.

Image: erix!, via Flickr

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