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Economy in Brief

FHFA Home Price Index Decline Lessens Y/Y
by Tom Moeller  March 22, 2012

The U.S. House Price Index from the Federal Housing and Finance Agency (FHFA) has been roughly unchanged for two consecutive months. The marginal January decline followed a downwardly revised 0.1% December uptick, initially reported as a 0.7% rise. That left prices down 0.7% from twelve months earlier. However, the decline was less of a deterioration than the slides dating back to 2008. 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 %) Jan Dec Nov Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total -0.0 0.1 0.7 -0.7 -4.2 -2.8 -5.1
  New England -1.3 0.0 0.2 -3.5 -2.2 -2.0 -2.5
  Middle Atlantic 0.8 -0.9 0.4 -1.4 -3.3 -1.1 -3.0
  East North Central -1.0 -0.4 1.2 -2.1 -3.8 -3.1 -3.6
  West North Central 4.7 -1.7 1.7 5.2 -3.5 -1.9 -1.4
  South Atlantic -0.8 1.9 -0.2 -0.2 -5.3 -4.9 -7.5
  East South Central -1.2 1.0 0.4 -0.9 -2.9 -2.7 -2.1
  West South Central -1.7 -0.5 1.9 -0.8 -1.1 -0.3 -0.0
  Mountain 0.9 0.7 1.0 -0.2 -6.9 -6.4 -10.9
  Pacific 0.9 -0.2 0.4 -2.4 -7.2 -2.2 -11.1
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