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Economy in Brief

U.S. FHFA Home Price Index Firmer in September
by Carol Stone  November 25, 2015

The U.S. House Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) increased 0.8% in September (6.1% y/y). This gain followed a much more modest 0.3% in August and was indeed the strongest monthly increase since March 2013. For the third quarter, the index gained 1.3% over Q2, that is, an annual rate of 5.2%, and was 5.7% above Q3 2014. This index covers prices on actual purchases. An associated quarterly index including appraisals on refinancings was up 1.6% in Q3 and 5.6% over a year ago.

The purchase price index was strongest in September in the New England states, where it rose 1.4% (4.4% y/y); that, however, followed just 0.3% in August and a decline of 1.1% in July. Several other regions had similar patterns of rebound in September after sluggishness in August. East North Central states saw 1.2% in September (4.8% y/y) after declines in August of 0.4% and July, 0.1%. Pacific states' prices were also up 1.2% in September (8.3% y/y), but that followed moderate gains of 0.6% in August and 0.5% in July. In the Middle Atlantic region, prices increase 0.9% in September, rebounding from -0.1% in August, but a stronger 1.0% in July. That region's year-to-year gain was the weakest overall, at 3.6%.

In the Mountain states, prices had a steadier monthly pattern, with September up 0.9%, August, 0.4% and July, 1.5%. These gains made the year-on-year increase 9.3%, the strongest performance among the nine regions. West South Central states had an 0.8% gain in September (6.5% y/y), following 0.2% in August and 0.5% in July.

There were slowdowns in the other regions, although no area showed a decline in September. Prices in the West North Central states edged up 0.1% (5.1% y/y) after stronger gains of 1.0% in August and 0.8% in July. East North Central states were also up just 0.1% in September (4.5% y/y) after 0.3% in August and 0.7% in July. The South Atlantic region saw prices up 0.2% in September (7.0% y/y), with August at 0.6% and July at 0.3%.

The FHFA house price index is a weighted repeat sales index. It measures average price changes in repeat sales of the same property. As noted above, an associated quarterly index also includes refinancings on the same kinds of 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 are available in Haver's USECON database.

FHFA U.S. House Price Index Purchase Only (SA %) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
Total 0.8 0.3 0.5 6.1 5.6 7.5 3.3
  Mountain 0.9 0.4 1.5 9.3 7.5 12.3 7.8
  Pacific 1.2 0.6 0.5 8.3 9.6 16.1 4.9
  West South Central 0.8 0.2 0.5 6.5 5.8 6.2 4.0
  South Atlantic 0.2 0.6 0.3 7.0 6.0 8.1 3.8
  East North Central 1.2 -0.4 -0.1 4.8 4.8 5.4 2.1
  West North Central 0.1 1.0 0.8 5.1 4.2 4.9 3.2
  East South Central 0.1 0.3 0.7 4.5 3.7 4.4 2.2
  Middle Atlantic 0.9 -0.1 1.0 3.6 2.4 2.8 -0.1
  New England 1.4 0.3 -1.1 4.4 3.2 3.9 -0.2

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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