Homeowners’ equity refers to the total value of a property minus the amount of mortgage debt still owed. And, according to the most recent Housing Scorecard from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it’s on the rise. In fact, during the third quarter of last year, equity rose nearly $168 billion from the previous quarter and reached its highest level since the second quarter of 2007. That’s good news for homeowners and a big improvement from where it was just a few years ago. The data is among many positive indicators found in the monthly report, which collects key housing information and details of the administration’s foreclosure prevention efforts. The Scorecard also lists stabilizing home prices, downward trending foreclosures completions, and the success of government mortgage modification and assistance programs among the housing market’s continued gains. However, the report also notes that new home sales slowed in November, as did sales of previously owned homes. It also cautions that there is still room for further improvement and a need to continue recovery efforts. More here.