Each month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development releases its Housing Scorecard, which details the market’s progress and the results of the government’s foreclosure prevention and mortgage assistance programs. According to the most recent release, the residential real estate market continues to make significant gains. For example, sales of previously owned homes hit an 8-year high in June, while new home sales have been above a projected annual rate of 500,000 units for four of the first six months of the year. This spring and summer, home sales have benefited from an uptick in the number of first-time home buyers active in the market. In fact, for the past four months, the share of first-time buyers has been at 30 percent or above. The scorecard also details the continuing stabilization of home prices. After many years of volatility, prices seem to have settled into a pace where increases have steadied and home values are hovering between 4 and 5 percent higher than at the same time last year. Foreclosures, on the other hand, have continued to fall, dropping another 4 percent in June. But despite all the encouraging news, the report cautions that there is still more to be done to help foster home sales, help underwater homeowners, and reduce mortgage delinquency rates. More here.