Washington, DC – 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 percent 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 percent. The quarterly report analyzing
housing price appreciation trends was released today by FHFA Acting Director Ed DeMarco.

The decline in prices in the fourth quarter was much more significant when measured without seasonal adjustment. The unadjusted national decline was 1.5 percent, a much larger drop than the 0.1 percent decline measured on a seasonally adjusted basis.

FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for December was down 1.6 percent from its November value, reversing price increases over the prior months. The monthly change from October to November was revised downward to +0.4 percent, from an initial estimate of +0.7 percent.

While the national, purchase-only house price index fell 1.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2009, prices of other goods and services rose 1.9 percent. Accordingly, the inflation-adjusted price of homes fell approximately 3.1 percent 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 percent in the latest quarter and 4.7 percent over the four-quarter period.

Significant Findings:

 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 percent in the Mountain Division, typical price increases were 1.5 percent 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 percent 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 percent over that period.

The complete list of state appreciation rates are on pages 13 and 14. The complete list of metropolitan area appreciation rates computed in a purchase-only series are on page 25 and all-transactions indexes are on pages 26-43.

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Moe Bedard
My name is Maurice "Moe" Bedard. I am the founder of America's #1 Mortgage Forum, LoanSafe.org. My online work has been featured in the New York Times, LA Times, Fox Business, and many other media publications.