FHFA: Home Price Decline Slows

ome prices fell 0.5% in the first quarter of 2009, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's (FHFA) seasonally adjusted, purchase-only house price index (HPI), which calculates home sales price information from Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-acquired mortgages. This decline was more modest than the 3.3% decline in the prior quarter. Seasonally adjusted prices fell 7.1% from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009, the regulator states. FHFA's all-transactions HPI, which includes data from mortgages used for both home purchases and refinancings, showed more strength over the latest quarter than the purchase-only index. The all-transactions HPI rose 0.4% in the latest quarter and fell only 3.3% over the four-quarter period. "Our latest data are consistent with growing evidence that housing market conditions may be stabilizing in some parts of the country, especially areas not covered by the other major repeat sales price index," says FHFA Director James B. Lockhart. "I am hopeful that this first-quarter data, combined with recent market stimulus programs, such as the first-time home buyer tax credit and President Obama's Making Home Affordable program, may mean that home price depreciation may be easing." While the national, purchase-only house price index fell 7.1% year-over-year, prices of other goods and services fell 0.9%. Accordingly, the inflation-adjusted price of homes fell approximately 6.2% over the latest year, the FHFA reports. As estimated in the purchase-only indexes, six of the nine Census Divisions experienced price declines in the latest quarter. Prices were weakest in the Mountain Census Division (3.1% price decline) and strongest in the New England Division, (1.3% price increase). Of the newly released purchase-only indexes for the 25 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., four-quarter prices declines were greatest in the Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, Fla., Metropolitan Division. That area saw price declines of 37.6% between the first quarters of 2008 and 2009. Prices held up best in the Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, Metropolitan Division, where prices rose 0.1% over the same period. Of the 20 ranked cities with the greatest four-quarter price declines, as measured in the all-transactions indexes, all but two – Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., and Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. – were in California or Florida. SOURC

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