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Economy in Brief

U.S. FHFA House Prices Increase Pre-Coronavirus
by Tom Moeller  April 22, 2020

• Home prices remained firm in mid-winter.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Price Index increased 0.7% during February following a 0.5% rise in January, revised from 0.3%. The 5.7% y/y gain had been fairly steady since early last year. Over the past three months, the increase in prices improved to 8.1%, the strongest increase since April 2017.

Monthly price increases were strongest in the Middle Atlantic (5.8% y/y), East North Central (5.3% y/y), Mountain (8.1% y/y) and West North Central (5.6% y/y) regions of the country.

Somewhat smaller monthly gains were logged in the Pacific (6.2% y/y) and East South Central (5.8% y/y) areas of the country.

Lower monthly increases occurred in the South Atlantic (6.1% y/y), New England (4.6% y/y) and West South Central (4.2% y/y) regions of the country.

Note that these data are for February and were unlikely to have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

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 %)
Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
Total 0.7 0.5 0.8 5.7 5.3 6.6 6.4
  New England 0.4 0.5 0.8 4.6 4.5 5.3 5.6
  Middle Atlantic 1.2 0.7 0.3 5.8 4.5 5.4 4.8
  East North Central 1.0 0.5 -0.1 5.3 5.5 6.5 5.9
  West North Central 0.9 0.3 0.9 5.6 5.1 6.1 5.2
  South Atlantic 0.4 0.7 0.9 6.1 5.8 7.2 6.6
  East South Central 0.7 0.7 1.1 5.8 5.8 6.1 5.6
  West South Central 0.3 -0.4 1.4 4.2 4.7 5.3 6.2
  Mountain 1.0 0.3 1.3 8.1 7.1 9.1 8.4
  Pacific 0.8 0.8 0.6 6.2 4.7 7.5 8.5
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