U.S. house prices rose 1.1 percent from the second quarter to the third quarter of 2012 according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index (HPI). The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages. Seasonally adjusted house prices rose 4.0 percent from the third quarter of 2011 to the third quarter of 2012. FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for September was up 0.2 percent from August.

“With significant growth in home prices during the quarter and a modest inventory of homes
available for sale, house price movements in the third quarter were similar to what we observed
in the spring,” said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. “The past year has seen
consistent price increases, but a number of factors continue to affect the recovery in home
prices such as stagnant income growth, high unemployment levels, lingering uncertainty about
the macroeconomy, and the large number of homes in the foreclosure pipeline.”

FHFA’s expanded-data house price index, a metric introduced in August 2011 that adds transactions information from county recorder offices and the Federal Housing Administration to the HPI data sample, rose 1.0 percent over the latest quarter. Over the latest four quarters, the index is up 3.3 percent. While the national, purchase-only house price index rose 4.0 percent from the third quarter of 2011 to the third quarter of 2012, prices of other goods and services rose 1.5 percent over the same period. Accordingly, the inflation-adjusted price of homes rose approximately 2.5 percent over the latest year.

Significant Findings:

  • The seasonally adjusted purchase-only HPI rose in the third quarter in 39 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the Mountain division experienced the strongest increase in the latest quarter, posting a 3.0 percent price increase. House prices were weakest in the East South Central division, where prices fell 0.2 percent over the quarter.
  • As measured with purchase-only indexes for the 25 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., third quarter price increases were greatest in the Phoenix-MesaGlendale, AZ Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). That area saw prices increase by7.2 percent between the second and third quarters. Prices were weakest in the Edison-New Brunswick, NJ metropolitan division, where prices fell 2.2 percent over that period.
  • The monthly seasonally adjusted purchase-only index for the United States has increased for 8 consecutive months.
  • FHFA’s new “distress-free sales” house price index suggests that price gains in the latest quarter may be partially attributable to decreases in the share of distressed sales in the latest quarter. For 11 of the 12 metropolitan areas covered by the new set of indexes, the distress-free measures—which remove the effect of distressed sales—showed more modest price gains than were evident in the traditional purchase-only indexes.

Click here to read the complete House Price Index Report at FHFA.gov.