For the third consecutive month, the number of delinquent home mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration has declined.

The delinquency rate is still high - 8.5 percent in April - but that is down from 9.4 percent in January.

The FHA was unwilling to applaud this as good news. We're not declaring victory by any stretch, says David Stevens, the FHA's commissioner. There's plenty of room for caution.

But outside analysts were more positive. It's a very important trend to the extent that we're not continuing to get worse, says Thomas Lawler, an independent housing economist in Leesburg, Va.