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News Release

U.S. House Prices Rise 1.4 Percent in Fourth Quarter; 18 Consecutive Quarterly Increases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2/25/2016

Washington, D.C. – U.S. house prices rose 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI).  This is the eighteenth consecutive quarterly price increase in the purchase-only, seasonally adjusted index.  House prices rose 5.8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter of 2015.  FHFA's seasonally adjusted monthly index for December was up 0.4 percent from November. 

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  FHFA has produced a video of highlights for this quarter.   

"Instability in financial markets did not seem to put much of a drag on home prices in the fourth quarter," said FHFA Supervisory Economist Andrew Leventis.   "The fourth quarter 1.4 percent increase for the U.S. was in line with the extremely steady—but historically elevated—appreciation rates we have been observing for several years now," Leventis said. 

While the purchase-only HPI rose 5.8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter of 2015, prices of other goods and services fell 0.8 percent.  The inflation-adjusted price of homes rose approximately 6.7 percent over the latest year.

Significant Findings

  • Home prices rose in every state and in the District of Columbia between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the fourth quarter of 2015.  The top five states in annual appreciation were:  1) Nevada 12.7 percent; 2) Colorado 10.9 percent; 3) Idaho 10.7 percent; 4) Washington 10.7 percent; and 5) Oregon 10.6 percent.
  • Among the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., four-quarter price increases were greatest in the San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Statistical Areas District (MSAD), where prices increased by 20.7 percent.  Prices were weakest in New Haven-Milford, Connecticut, where they fell 1.5 percent.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the Pacific division experienced the strongest increase in the fourth quarter, posting a 2.1 percent quarterly increase and an 8.0 percent increase since the fourth quarter of last year.  House price appreciation was weakest in the Middle Atlantic division, where prices rose 0.6 percent from the last quarter.

Tables and graphs showing home price statistics for metropolitan areas, states, census divisions, and the U.S. as a whole are included on the following pages.

Other Price Indexes

Most statistics in the quarterly house price index report reference price changes computed by FHFA's basic "purchase-only" HPI.  In some cases, however, the reported statistics reference alternative price measures.  FHFA publishes – and makes available for download – three additional home price indexes beyond the basic "purchase-only" series.  Although they all use the same general methodology, the three alternatives rely on slightly different datasets in index estimation.  

The alternative measures include:

  • "Distress-Free" house price indexes.  Sales of bank-owned properties and short sales are removed from purchase-only dataset prior to estimation of the indexes.
  • "Expanded-Data" house price indexes.  Sales price information sourced from county recorder offices and from FHA-backed mortgages are added to the purchase-only data sample.  This index is used annually to adjust the maximum conforming loan limits, which constrain the size of loans that can be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • "All-Transactions" house price indexes.  Appraisal values from refinance mortgages are added to the purchase-only data sample.

Data constraints preclude the production of all types of indexes for every geographic area, but multiple index types are generally available.  For individual states, for instance, three types of indexes are available.  The various indexes tend to correlate closely over the long-term, but short-term differences can be significant. 

Background

FHFA's HPI tracks changes in average home prices by analyzing changes in home values for the individual properties.  The underlying "repeat-transactions" methodology constructs index estimates by statistically evaluating price appreciation (or depreciation) for homes with multiple values over time.  The purchase-only HPI uses sales price information from Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-purchased and Enterprise-guaranteed mortgages originated over the past 41 years.  More than seven million repeat sales transactions are used in the estimation of the purchase-only HPI.

Note

  • The next monthly index (including data through January 2016) will be released March 22, 2016.
  • The next quarterly HPI report, which will include data for the first quarter of 2016, will be released May 25, 2016. 
  • Future HPI release dates for 2016 are available on the House Price Index page.
  • Follow @FHFA on Twitter and YouTube for more HPI news.
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The Federal Housing Finance Agency regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 11 Federal Home Loan Banks. These government-sponsored enterprises provide nearly $5.7 trillion in funding for the U.S. mortgage markets and financial institutions. Additional information is available at www.FHFA.gov, on Twitter @FHFA, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Contacts:

Media: Stefanie Johnson (202) 649-3030 / Corinne Russell (202) 649-3032 
Consumers: Consumer Communications or (202) 649-3811

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