Each month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury collect key data on the housing market and the federal government’s foreclosure prevention programs. The Housing Scorecard is a comprehensive report and a snapshot of the housing market’s health from month to month. In March, the scorecard found many encouraging signs. For example, it highlights the fact that, despite severe weather in much of the country, February new home sales were at their fastest pace in seven years. Also, homeowners’ equity continues to rise. Equity – which refers to a property’s total value minus the amount still owed on the mortgage – has now risen $5.1 trillion since 2009 and jumped another 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. The continued improvement is good news for current and prospective homeowners. The report also shows home prices continuing to stabilize and foreclosure starts trending downward year-over-year. However, despite the many positive signs, the report cautions that there is still considerable geographic variation in market conditions and work to be done to foster home sales, help underwater homeowners, and reduce mortgage delinquency rates. More here.