It’s a question we here at MortgageKeeper have asked ourselves. The Housing Crisis seems to be easing. Foreclosure is down. For sale signs in our neighborhoods are replaced by “sold” signs a lot faster these days. So why is the demand for MortgageKeeper reaching record levels?

To be sure, we’ve improved MK’s market coverage–160 cities and counting. We have more clients, and our data has a new interface that our users seem to like.

But this doesn’t explain why long-time users of our product are seeing their need for our product go through the roof.

The punchline: markets are up, but most Americans aren’t seeing their incomes increase. Poverty rates are still higher now than they were before the recession started.

The catalyst for past housing recoveries has been first time homebuyers. But where are they this time?  Answer: they are saving for a hefty downpayment. Typical first time buyers are middle income Americans–those with little savings and less-than-perfect credit. With these limitations, qualifying for a mortgage in this stricter environment can be almost impossible.

Many buyers this time around are investors or retirees–who are more likely to pay cash and win any housing bidding war (see this summary of a recent article in The Wall Street Journal).

So while a recovery seems to be on the horizon, MortgageKeeper continues to help thousands of struggling homeowners every day to find their financial footing–hopefully in time to take advantage of the sunnier housing outlook.