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U.S. Home Prices Rise Modestly in the First Quarter

by Chicago Agent

By Tara Steele

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index (HPI), home prices rose modestly in the first quarter of 2012, up 0.6 percent from the fourth quarter, and up 0.5 percent from the first quarter of 2011. The FHFA reports are based on home sales price information from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which accounts for the majority of all American loans.

“Consistent with other housing market indicators, the FHFA HPI showed stronger house prices in the first quarter, most notably in March,” said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. “Increased affordability and a somewhat smaller inventory of homes for sale are positively impacting house prices.”

Inflation-adjusted prices actually fell

Over the past year, prices of other goods and services rose 3.2 percent, exceeding the rate of increases in housing. The FHFA reports that the inflation-adjusted price of homes actually fell 2.6 percent over the past year.

The HPI rose in the first quarter in 30 states and the District of Columbia, with Hawaii outperforming all other states, rising 10.3 percent, followed closely by Washington, D.C. (9.8 percent), Iowa (5.7 percent), Florida (4.7 percent) and North Dakota (4.4 percent).

Regional price increases and decreases

Of the nine census divisions, the Mountain division experienced the strongest prices in the latest quarter, posting a 1.4 percent price increase. Meanwhile, prices were weakest in the New England division, where prices slid 0.7 percent.

The FHFA reports that as measured with purchase-only indexes for the 25 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., first-quarter price increases were greatest in the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX area. That area saw price increases of 2.4 percent between the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012. Prices were weakest in Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA, where prices declined 3.3 percent over that period.

Each state performed differently, with blue states increasing and red states decreasing in home prices, according to the FHFA, as depicted below.

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