Federal Housing Finance Agency Print
Home / Media / Home Prices Fall in First Quarter (2009)
News Release

Home Prices Fall in First Quarter (2009)

Pace of Decline Lessens Considerably


Washington, D.C. – U.S. home prices fell in the first quarter of 2009 according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) seasonally-adjusted purchase-only House Price Index (HPI). The previously announced, but revised January and February indexes showed increases in house prices, which were offset by a March decrease. The purchase-only HPI, calculated using home sales price information from Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-acquired mortgages, was 0.5 percent lower on a seasonally-adjusted basis in the first quarter than in the fourth quarter of 2008. This decline was much more modest than the 3.3 percent decline in the prior quarterly period. Over the past year, seasonally-adjusted prices fell 7.1 percent from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009.

FHFA’s all-transactions house price index, 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 percent in the latest quarter and fell only 3.3 percent over the four-quarter period.

The quarterly report analyzing housing price appreciation trends was released today by FHFA Director James B. Lockhart. "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," said Lockhart. "I am hopeful that this first quarter data combined with recent market stimulus programs, such as the first-time homebuyer 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 percent from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009, prices of other goods and services fell 0.9 percent. Accordingly, the inflation-adjusted price of homes fell approximately 6.2 percent over the latest year.

Significant Findings:

  • As estimated in FHFA’s seasonally-adjusted, purchase-only indexes, six of the nine Census Divisions experienced price declines in the latest quarter. Prices were weakest in the Mountain Census Division, which experienced a 3.1 percent price decline in the quarter and strongest in the New England Division, which saw a price increase of 1.3 percent.

  • Seasonally-adjusted, purchase-only indexes indicate that prices rose in the latest quarter in 20 states. Prices fell over the latest four quarters in 46 states and Washington, D.C.

  • 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, FL Metropolitan Division. That area saw price declines of 37.6 percent between the first quarters of 2008 and 2009. Prices held up best in the Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division, where prices rose 0.1 percent over that period.

  • FHFA’s standard all-transactions indexes, which are available for far more metropolitan areas than the purchase-only measures, indicate the strongest market conditions in parts of Texas and the weakest conditions in parts of California. Among the 294 ranked metropolitan areas, Corpus Christi, TX had the greatest price increase over the latest four quarters with a rise of 4.1 percent. With a 37.8 percent decline, prices in Merced, CA were the weakest.

  • Of the 20 ranked cities with the greatest four-quarter price declines (measured in the all-transactions indexes), all but two—Las Vegas-Paradise, NV and Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ—were in California or Florida.

The complete list of state appreciation rates are on pages 13 and 14. The complete list of metropolitan area appreciation rates for a new, purchase-only series are on page 26 and are on pages 29–43 for all-transactions indexes.

Index Additions and Changes

Several new data series are being published with this release, including purchase-only price indexes (seasonally-adjusted and unadjusted) for the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. Seasonally-adjusted versions of the state purchase-only indexes have also been released.

The newly-released data, are available at www.fhfa.gov/DataTools/Downloads/Pages/House-Price-Index.aspx, and are used in several of the tables in the body of this release. Price changes for the 25 largest metropolitan areas, as reflected in the purchase-only series, are shown on page 25. The summary tables showing recent price changes (pages 13–14) by state now reference the seasonally-adjusted state indexes. Finally, the tables at the end of the report that show actual Census Division and state index values now use the purchase only indexes (not seasonally-adjusted) instead of the all-transactions index.

Concurrent with this release, FHFA has also published a Research Paper and a Mortgage Market Note. The analyses use the most recent available data to assess the impact of distressed sales on price change estimates for California and to broadly analyze recent market indicators in that state. Brief descriptions of these articles, in addition to further details about the newly-released data series, are provided in the Highlights section of this release on pages 11–12.


FHFA’s purchase-only and all-transactions HPI track average house price changes in repeat sales or refinancings of the same single-family properties. The purchase-only index is based on more than five million repeat sales transactions, while the all-transactions index includes more than 36 million repeat transactions. Both indexes are based on data obtained from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for mortgages originated over the past 34 years.

FHFA analyzes the combined mortgage records of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which form the nation’s largest database of conventional, conforming mortgage transactions. The conforming loan limit for mortgages purchased since the beginning of 2006 has been $417,000. Loan limits for mortgages originated in the latter half of 2007 through Dec. 31, 2008 were raised to as much as $729,750 in high-cost areas in the continental United States. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, enacted in February 2009, extended those limits for 2009 originations in places where those limits were higher than those originally calculated for 2009.

This HPI report contains tables showing: 1) House price appreciation for the 50 states and Washington, D.C.; 2) House price appreciation by Census Division and for the U.S. as a whole; 3) A ranking of 294 MSAs and Metropolitan Divisions by house price appreciation; and 4) A list of one-year and five-year house price appreciation rates for MSAs not ranked.

  • Please e-mail FHFAinfo@fhfa.gov for a printed copy of the report.

  • The next quarterly HPI report, which will include data for the second quarter of 2009, will be released Aug. 25, 2009.

  • The next monthly index, which will include data through April 2009, will be released June 23, 2009.

Click here to view the Report



The Federal Housing Finance Agency regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks. These government-sponsored enterprises provide more than $6.3 trillion in funding for the U.S. mortgage markets and financial institutions.

Corinne Russell (202) 649-3032 / Stefanie Johnson (202) 649-3030
© 2020 Federal Housing Finance Agency