Home Values Falling at Slower Pace

As US home sales rise, house prices are falling, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s seasonally adjusted, purchase-only house price index, which shows first-quarter 2009 home prices were down 0.5% from Q408 prices. The pace of decline between the two quarters, however, is considerably less than the previous recording period, where prices dropped 3.3%, the Agency says. And while seasonally-adjusted prices fell a total of 7.1% from Q108 to Q109, FHFA Director James Lockhart says its most recent data is consistent with evidence that housing market conditions may be stabilizing in some parts of the country — especially areas not covered by other major repeat sales price indexes. “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,” Lockhart said. Despite a slowing in the pace of price declines, six of the nation’s nine census divisions still experienced a drop in home values over the latest quarter. Prices were weakest in the Mountain Census Division — including Arizona and Nevada, among other states — which saw a 3.1% price decline. New England proved strongest, experiencing a price increase of 1.3%, according to FHFA data. During Q109, prices rose in 20 states, FHFA says. Over the last four quarters, price fell in 46 states and Washington, D.C. FHFA’s standard all-transactions indexes, which includes data from Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-acquired mortgages used for both home purchases and refinancings, showed more strength over the latest quarter than the purchase-only index, rising 0.4%. The index indicates the strongest market conditions are found 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%.  Posting a whopping 37.8% decline, prices in Merced, CA were the weakest. Write to Kelly Curran.

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