February 26, 2010

U.S. house prices fell slightly in the fourth quarter of 2009 according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index (HPI). The HPI, calculated using home sales price information from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-acquired mortgages, was 0.1% lower on a seasonally adjusted basis in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter of 2009. Over the year ending with the fourth quarter of 2009, seasonally adjusted prices fell 1.2%.

The decline in prices in the fourth quarter was much more significant when measured without seasonal adjustment. The unadjusted national decline was 1.5%, a much larger drop than the 0.1% decline measured on a seasonally adjusted basis. FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for December 2009 was down 1.6% from its November value, reversing price increases over the prior months. The monthly change from October to November was revised downward to +0.4%, from an initial estimate of +0.7%.

While the national, purchase-only house price index fell 1.2% from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2009, prices of other goods and services rose 1.9%. Accordingly, the inflation-adjusted price of homes fell approximately 3.1% over the latest year.

FHFA’s all-transactions house price index, which includes data from mortgages used for both home purchases and refinancings, fell over the latest quarter. The index declined 0.7% in the latest quarter and 4.7% over the four-quarter period.

Additional Findings Include:
-Of the nine Census Divisions, the Mountain and Pacific Divisions experienced the most significant price movements in the latest quarter. While prices fell 1.3% in the Mountain Division, typical price increases were 1.5% in the Pacific Division.

-Seasonally adjusted, purchase-only indexes indicate that prices rose in the latest quarter in 27 states and Washington, D.C. Prices rose over the latest four quarters in 19 states.

-As measured with purchase-only indexes for the 25 most-populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., four-quarter price declines were greatest in the Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL area. That area saw price declines of 12.9% between the fourth quarters of 2008 and 2009. Prices held up best in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV area, where prices rose 10.6% over that period.

Click here for the Federal Housing Finance Agency news release and detailed report.