The Obama administration's latest housing scorecard shows signs of stability filtering into the housing market, with home equity numbers rising 7.4% between the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.
The scorecard – which is compiled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Obama administration and Treasury – noted that home equity rose $457.1 billion in the first quarter of 2012, the highest level reached since the second quarter of 2010.
Sales of previously owned homes also grew 9.6% in May from year ago levels while new home sales reached their highest level in more than two years.
Still, foreclosure starts and completions increased in May, suggesting the market remains fragile in some areas.
The administration's housing fact sheet cites National Association of Realtors' data, which shows the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage hitting 3.66% in the most recent period, compared to 4.51% a year ago and 5.10% in December 2008.
The country had approximately 11.1 million underwater borrowers in the most recent CoreLogic report cited by the administration, compared to 10.7 million in the previous period and 11 million a year ago.
Mortgage originations trended downward in the report, with 1.219 million originations in the recent survey period, compared to 1.253 million in the previous report and 918,000 a year earlier, according to Mortgage Bankers Association data.
Foreclosure sales and notices of default as tracked by RealtyTrac climbed slightly in the report, with the scorecard showing 66,300 notices of default last period, compared to 58,800 a year ago. Notices of foreclosure sale also edged up from 77,500 in the last report to 84,900, but fell from 89,300 last year.
New home sales provided a dose of optimism with 30,800 homes sold in the most recent report, compared to 25,700 a year earlier. Existing home sales also grew year-over year from 345,800 to 378,200, according to HUD and NAR data cited in the report.