House prices increased 5.2% in January from a year earlier, slowing from December’s annualized gain of 5.4%, according to a report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
The data is a snapshot of the market before it was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Lynn Fisher, the deputy director of the division of research and statistics at FHFA. While the disease began spreading in China in December, it didn’t show up in the U.S. until mid-January, via an infected traveler, and the first case of person-to-person transmission in the U.S. wasn’t discovered until late February.
“Transactions in January were unlikely to reflect much if any, influence from the COVID-19 outbreak,” Fisher said. “House prices in the Pacific and South Atlantic regions grew somewhat faster over the year ending in January 2020 than observed the same time a year ago.”
The FHFA monthly HPI is calculated uses sales prices for single-family houses bought with mortgages sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Because of this, the selection excludes high-end homes bought with jumbo loans as well as cash sales.
Across the nine census divisions, the South Atlantic division, including the Washington D.C. suburbs, saw the strongest appreciation growth, increasing by 6.4% January from a year earlier, according to the report.
The Mountain division, which includes Colorado, gained by 6.1%, and the Pacific area that includes California gained 5.2%. New England, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, grew 4.6%.
The smallest 12-month change was the 4.1% increase in the Middle Atlantic area, which includes New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.