The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development releases their Housing Scorecard each month in an effort to track key housing market data and the results of the government’s foreclosure mitigation programs. The comprehensive report covers new and existing home sales, mortgage rates, prices, foreclosures, and more. In May, the scorecard once again found encouraging signs that the market has improved. For example, new home sales hit an eight-year high in April, rising 23.8 percent over one year earlier. At the same time, sales of previously owned homes also rose due to solid gains in the Midwest and Northeast. The gains are significant as it is evidence that there remains a high level of buyer demand, despite affordability concerns caused by higher prices and fewer homes available for sale this spring. Part of the reason for that may be because mortgage rates remain near three-year lows. Historically low mortgage rates have been helping ease the effects of sharp price increases and they continue to entice interested buyers. Also in the report, foreclosure starts and completions fell again in April, continuing a long, downward trend caused, in part, by rising home values. Still, despite the encouraging signs, the report cautions that there is still work to be done to help the housing market and underwater homeowners who are still struggling. More here.