U.S. house prices declined modestly in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the ""Federal Housing Finance Agency's"":http://www.fhfa.gov/ (FHFA) seasonally-adjusted purchase-only house price index (HPI), which was calculated using home sales price information from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-acquired mortgages.[IMAGE]
On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the fourth quarter HPI was just 0.1 percent lower than it was in the third quarter of 2009. However, the quarter-to-quarter decline in prices was much more significant when measured without seasonal adjustment. According to FHFA, the unadjusted national decline was 1.5 percent
FHFA's seasonally-adjusted monthly index for December was down 1.6 percent from its November value, and over the year, seasonally-adjusted prices fell 1.2 percent. Although house prices in the fourth quarter of last year dropped notably from the fourth quarter of 2008, prices of other goods and services during this same period rose 1.9 percent. Accordingly, the inflation-adjusted price of homes fell approximately 3.1 percent over the latest year.
The all-transactions HPI, which includes data from mortgages used for both home purchases and refinancings, also fell in the fourth quarter of last year. Compared to the previous quarter, the index declined 0.7 percent, and over the four-quarter period it plummeted 4.7 percent. FHFA said the difference between appreciation rates in the two indexes is entirely explained by the inclusion of refinancings in the all-transactions index.
FHFA publishes both an all-transactions and purchase-only HPI for the United States, the nine Census Divisions, all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, and the 25 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). For the remaining MSAs, only the all-transactions index is available.
Of the nine Census Divisions, the Mountain and Pacific Division experienced the most significant price movements. Prices in the Mountain Division plunged 1.3 percent, while prices in the Pacific Division soared 1.5 percent. In addition, the seasonally-adjusted purchase-only indexes for the 50 states and the District of Columbia indicated that prices rose in the fourth quarter in 27 states and Washington, D.C., and over the entire year, prices increased in 19 states.
As measured with the purchase-only indexes for the 25 most-populated MSAs, price declines on a year-over-year basis were the greatest in the Miami-Miami-Beach-Kendall, Florida area, where prices plummeted 12.9 percent between the fourth quarters of 2008 and 2009. During the same period, prices held up the best in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Virginia-Maryland-West Virginia area, where the HPI surged 10.6 percent.