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Economy in Brief

U.S. FHFA House Price Index Jumps Up in January, but Trend Continues to Slow
by Sandy Batten  March 26, 2019

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Price Index for house purchases rose 0.6% m/m (5.6% y/y) in January following an unrevised 0.3% m/m increase in December. The January increase was the largest monthly gain since February 2018, but nonetheless, was a continuation of the slowing trend in place over the past year as the y/y rate fell again in January. It has fallen more than two percentage points since February 2018. The 5.6% y/y advance in January was the slowest annual rise since February 2016. However, over the most recent six months, the national index rose at a 5.3% annual rate, the fastest six-month pace since July 2018.

The moderation in prices in the national index over the past year has generally been echoed across the nine major census regions. The most pronounced decelerations have been in the Pacific, South Atlantic, and West South Central regions. In January, prices fell in only one region--a 0.7% m/m decline in New England, the largest monthly decline since early 2014. And they edged up only 0.1% m/m in the Pacific region and 0.2% m/m in the East South Central region. In contrast, prices jumped up 1.1% m/m in the East North Central Region, the largest monthly increase since February 2017, and rose 0.9% m/m in the Mountain region, adding to the recent acceleration of price increase experienced there (other the past six months, up 8.0% at an annual rate).

From a year ago, prices rose in each of the nine regions in January. The Mountain region experienced the largest increase (7.8% y/y), while the Pacific region experienced the weakest increase (4.3% y/y).

The FHFA house price index is a weighted purchase-only index that measures average price changes in repeat sales of the same property. An associated quarterly index 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 %)
Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total 0.6 0.3 0.4 5.6 6.7 6.7 6.1
  New England -0.7 0.8 0.5 4.4 5.4 5.9 4.1
  Middle Atlantic 0.8 0.6 1.4 5.5 5.4 4.9 3.7
  East North Central 1.1 0.5 -0.3 5.7 6.5 6.1 5.4
  West North Central 0.6 0.5 -0.2 5.4 6.2 5.4 5.6
  South Atlantic 0.5 0.1 1.1 5.8 7.2 7.0 7.0
  East South Central 0.2 0.1 0.9 5.8 6.2 5.9 5.1
  West South Central 0.7 -0.2 1.0 5.2 5.3 6.5 5.8
  Mountain 0.9 0.5 0.3 7.8 9.3 8.8 7.9
  Pacific 0.1 0.6 -0.5 4.3 7.7 8.7 8.0


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, Georgia and Florida.
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: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington.

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