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Economy in Brief

U.S. FHFA Home Price Index Ends 2014 at Firm Pace
by Carol Stone  February 26, 2015

The U.S. House Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) increased 0.8% in December, after November's 0.7% gain, which was revised slightly from 0.8% reported initially. These two months put December up 8.4% at an annual rate from three months before, the strongest such three-month comparison since July 2013.

Prices were strongest again in the Pacific region, up 8.6% y/y, with the three-month annualized growth a sizable 12.0%. The Mountain states were the second-strongest region, with a 1.5% rise in December putting three-month annualized growth at 14.5% and the 12-month gain at 6.9%. East North Central states saw a sizable 1.7% increase in December, putting their three-month growth at a 9.6% rate and 12-month growth at 5.3%. Home price inflation in the West South Central region slowed in the latest month to 0.2%, but its earlier gains left its 12-month rise at 5.1%, the fourth strongest region. South Atlantic states and East South Central states both had 4.9% gains over the 12 months, with the South Atlantic inching up 0.1% in December after substantial increases in the two months before, so its three-month annual pace was 10.5%. Home prices in East South Central states rose 0.4% in December after their 1.5% surge in November, so their three-month pace was 9.3%.

Home prices maintained slower trends in West North Central states, up 0.5% in December, with the three month gain at 6.1% and the 12-month move at 4.4%. New England states saw a pick-up in December to a 0.6% increase, but their decline in November of 0.5% left their three-month move at just a 0.1% annual rate and their 12 month increase at 3.9%. The slowest 12-month gain in December was 3.7% in the Middle Atlantic states, which saw a slowing to 0.3% on the month while their 0.7% rise in November put their three-month gain at 3.4%.

The FHFA house price index is a weighted repeat sales index. It measures average price changes in repeat sales. An associated quarterly index also includes refinancings on the same properties. The indexes are based on transactions involving conforming, conventional mortgages purchased or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Only mortgage transactions on single family properties are included. The FHFA data is available in Haver's USECON database.

FHFA U.S. House Price Index Purchase Only (SA %) Dec Nov Oct Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
Total 0.8 0.7 0.5 5.4 5.6 7.6 3.3
  Pacific 1.7 1.0 0.2 8.6 9.7 16.3 4.9
  Mountain 1.5 1.0 0.9 6.9 7.6 12.5 7.9
  East North Central 1.7 -0.2 0.8 5.3 4.8 5.5 2.1
  West South Central 0.2 0.8 0.0 5.1 5.8 6.2 4.3
  South Atlantic 0.1 1.3 1.1 4.9 5.9 8.2 3.9
  East South Central 0.4 1.5 0.4 4.9 8.7 4.4 2.4
  West North Central 0.5 0.4 0.6 4.4 4.2 4.9 3.2
  New England 0.6 -0.5 -0.1 3.9 3.2 4.0 -0.2
  Middle Atlantic 0.3 0.7 -0.2 3.7 2.3 2.9 -0.1

New England: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Middle Atlantic: New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
East North Central: Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
West North Central: North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.
South Atlantic: Delaware, Maryland, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, GA & FL
East South Central: Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama.
West South Central: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana.
Mountain: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.
Pacific: Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California.

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