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Economy in Brief

FHFA Again Reports Home Price Improvement
by Tom Moeller  February 23, 2012

The U.S. House Price Index from the Federal Housing and Finance Agency (FHFA) has risen for two consecutive months as of December. The increases helped lessen the y/y decline to 0.8% from 6.0% earlier in 2011. The greatest y/y improvement occurred in the East South Central region of the country including Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama and the West South Central including Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana. Great weakness continued in the Pacific region including Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California as well as in the Middle Atlantic states including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. FHFA uses data provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and is not value-weighted.

The HPI is calculated using a repeat sales index. That means that the HPI measures changes in the price of the same property over time but does not measure changes in property types over time. So if, for example, the price of a larger, new home was not growing very rapidly, but the number of people transitioning from smaller homes to larger homes greatly increased, median house prices would go up (people buying more expensive houses) much more than the HPI. In this way, the HPI is a better measure of how any particular home is appreciating while the median house price is a better measure of what the typical home buyer is paying.

The FHFA data is available in Haver's USECON database.

FHFA U.S. House Price Index Purchase Only (SA %) Dec Nov Oct Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total 0.7 0.7 -0.9 -0.8 -4.2 -2.8 -5.1
  New England 0.2 0.2 -1.0 -0.6 -2.2 -2.0 -2.5
  Middle Atlantic -0.0 -0.1 -1.1 -2.7 -3.3 -1.1 -3.0
  East North Central 0.4 1.4 -1.6 -0.6 -3.8 -3.1 -3.6
  West North Central -0.9 1.3 -1.3 -0.8 -3.4 -1.9 -1.4
  South Atlantic 2.2 -0.2 -1.3 -1.2 -5.2 -4.9 -7.5
  East South Central 1.4 0.9 0.3 3.0 -2.8 -2.7 -2.1
  West South Central -0.4 1.8 -0.1 1.7 -1.1 -0.3 -0.0
  Mountain 2.5 0.9 -1.3 -0.3 -6.8 -6.4 -10.9
  Pacific 0.3 0.4 -0.4 -3.8 -7.1 -2.2 -11.1
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