Data from the Obama Administration’s May scorecard revealed continued improvement in housing, yet officials warn that a full recovery will still take more time.
"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 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs Kurt Usowski.
He added, "In the first quarter of 2013, homeowners' equity grew by more than $815 billion, reaching its highest level since the first quarter of 2008."
Annual home prices increased to the highest level since the housing bubble burst in mid-2006, with the S&P Case-Shiller home price index up from 146.6 in March to 148.7 in April. Year-over-year the index is up from 134.1 in April 2012.
Purchases of existing and new homes remain strong, with existing-home sales up from 411,700 in March to 414,200 in April, according to data gathered from the National Association of Realtors. Meanwhile, new home sales rose from 37,000 in March to 37,800 in April, says data from the U.S. Census Bureau and HUD.
Existing-home inventory surprised by increasing from a 4.7-month supply to a 5.2-month supply, as reported by NAR. The supply of new homes remained unchanged at a 4.1-month supply.
Foreclosure starts continued to fall from 73,100 in April to 70,100, the scorecard noted when citing RealtyTrac data.
Mortgage rates continued to be the buzz of the housing industry, rising at a rapid pace. The latest report showed rates at 3.81% for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, down from the May 13 report of 3.40%, data from Freddie Mac revealed.
Mortgage delinquency rates continued to inch down for prime borrowers from 3.6% to 3.3%, based on Lender Processing Services stats. This was down from 3.8% in the April scorecard.
Usowski added, "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."