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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 99-24
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Tuesday
Or contact your local HUD officeFebruary 2, 1999


WASHINGTON - "1998 was the best year on record for homebuyers and the housing industry," Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo said today, responding to a new report showing that U.S. builders sold a record 888,000 new homes in 1998.

The record high for new home sales, reported today by HUD and the Census Bureau, is far above the previous record of 819,000 set in 1977. In 1997 new home sales totaled 804,000.

The report follows two other recent record-breaking announcements:

  • The National Association of Realtors announced Jan. 25 that a record 4.78 million existing homes were sold in 1998 -- breaking the previous record of 4.21 million set in 1997.

  • Cuomo announced January 27 that America's homeownership rate hit a record annual high in 1998, with 66.3 percent of all households owning their own homes, breaking the previous record of 65.7 percent set in 1997. A total of 69.1 million families owned homes at the end of 1998, Cuomo said - 7.3 million more than when President Clinton took office in 1993.

"Breaking any one of these records in a year would be terrific news," Cuomo said. "Breaking all three in a single year proves beyond doubt that American families, American workers and American businesses are all benefiting directly and dramatically from the economic prosperity created by President Clinton's policies. Low interest rates, low unemployment and a booming economy are combining to send sales of new and existing homes to new highs, and are creating more homeowners than ever before."

Cuomo said the rising demand for homes helped the Federal Housing Administration increase the number of home mortgage loans it insured in 1998 by 20 percent, to about 1 million. As a result, he said FHA (which is part of HUD) is requesting a $10 billion increase in the amount of loans it can insure in a year, to a new high of $120 billion.

At the same time, the HUD-owned Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae), which acts as a secondary market for all FHA and VA loans, is requesting a $50 billion increase in its annual mortgage guarantee limitation, to a new level of $200 billion.

Both higher limits are part of the proposed HUD budget for Fiscal Year 2000 that President Clinton sent to Congress on Monday.

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