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Economy in Brief

U.S. FHFA House Price Index Posts Modest Increase
by Sandy Batten  March 25, 2020

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Price Index increased 0.3% m/m in January after an upwardly revised 0.7% m/m gain in December (initially 0.6%). Prices rose 5.2% in January from a year earlier, down from an upwardly revised 5.4% y/y in December. Over the past three months, prices are up 5.6% at an annual rate versus 5.8% in December.

Prices across the nine census divisions generally rose in January with a 0.2% m/m drop in the Mountain region and a 0.1% m/m decline in the West North Central region the only declines. The Atlantic regions posted the strongest monthly gains with prices in the South Atlantic rising 0.7% m/m and prices in the Middle Atlantic region increasing 0.6% m/m.

Compared to a year ago, all census divisions posted higher prices, led by a 6.4% y/y rise in the South Atlantic region and a 6.1% y/y increase in the Mountain region. The Middle Atlantic region posted the weakest annual gain with a 4.1% y/y increase.

Note that these data are for January and are unlikely to have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. That effect is still to come.

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 2019 2018 2017
Total 0.3 0.7 0.3 5.2 5.3 6.6 6.4
  New England 0.4 0.8 0.2 4.6 4.5 5.3 5.6
  Middle Atlantic 0.6 0.4 0.4 4.1 4.5 5.4 4.8
  East North Central 0.3 0.0 1.1 4.8 5.5 6.5 5.9
  West North Central -0.1 0.8 0.1 4.6 5.1 6.1 5.2
  South Atlantic 0.7 1.0 0.2 6.4 5.8 7.2 6.6
  East South Central 0.2 0.9 -0.4 5.5 5.8 6.1 5.6
  West South Central 0.0 1.2 0.0 4.4 4.7 5.3 6.2
  Mountain -0.2 1.3 0.0 6.1 7.2 9.1 8.4
  Pacific 0.5 0.6 0.4 5.2 4.7 7.5 8.5
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