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Economy in Brief

FHFA Home Price Index Strengthens Due To Notable Gains In The Pacific & Mid-Atlantic Regions
by Tom Moeller September 23, 2009

Released yesterday was the U.S. House Price Index from the Federal Housing and Finance Agency (FHFA). The Purchase Only Index for July rose 0.3% from June and it was the third consecutive monthly increase. Moreover, the latest gain eased the year-to-year decline in the nationwide average of home prices to 4.2% from its worst reading of negative 8.9% last November. Since their peak in early-2007 home prices nationwide have fallen 10.5%. The FHFA uses data provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and it is not value-weighted.

Most notable during July was the 1.6% gain in home prices in the Pacific region of the country. It followed similarly strong 0.7% and 1.6% increases during the prior two months. Nevertheless these increases follow earlier home price declines that were amongst the sharpest in the country. Versus last July prices in the region were still down 9.0% after having fallen 17.3% during all of 2008. Recent improvement in home prices also was evident in a 1.0% July increase in the Mid-Atlantic region. That gain, however, only recouped the decline during June and left prices roughly even with the year-end 2008 level. More moderate monthly gain in home prices were logged in the West North Central, South Atlantic and Mountain Regions of the country. In the latter two regions, however, prices continued notably below the year-ago level.

Continuing weak were home prices in several of the country's regions. Despite a 0.3% July increase, prices in the Mountain states remained off 9.8% from the year ago level and they were off 16.1% from the 2007 peak. In the South Atlantic region prices also posted a gain during July but the 0.6% uptick still left them off by 5.6% from one year ago. Since their early-2007 peak prices here have fallen 12.8%. In the populous East North Central region prices slipped another 0.3% during July and they were flat year-to-date.

Cross-Country Causes and Consequences of the 2008 Crisis: Early Warning Signals from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.

FHFA U.S. House Price Index Purchase Only (%) July June Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Total 0.3 0.1 -4.2 -5.8 1.3 6.0
  New England -0.1 0.3 -2.5 -4.6 -1.7 1.1
  Middle Atlantic 1.0 -1.1 -2.9 -2.3 1.9 6.3
  East North Central -0.3 -0.2 -3.3 -4.4 -1.3 1.8
  West North Central 0.3 -0.3 -1.5 -2.8 1.0 3.2
  South Atlantic 0.6 -0.2 -5.6 -7.1 1.4 7.1
  East South Central -0.9 2.3 -1.7 -1.4 3.8 7.2
  West South Central -0.2 1.1 0.1 0.7 4.7 7.2
  Mountain 0.3 -1.0 -9.8 -6.0 4.0 10.6
  Pacific 1.6 0.7 -9.0 -17.3 0.1 9.8
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