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FHFA Housing Price Index

  • FHFA released their housing price index data for April which showed that house prices rose 0.3 percent from March on a seasonally adjusted basis.
  • That rate of growth is the same that FHFA reported in March. If that rate were to continue for 12 months, it would translate into a very normal annual price growth of 3.7 percent.
  • Because month to month data can be somewhat volatile and we have recently had some very strong months of growth, the year over year data shows that home prices were up by 5.3 percent according to the FHFA.  This is somewhat similar to the 8.5 percent change reported in NAR’s median price in April.
  • Both FHFA and NAR data showed that the April year over year growth in prices was higher than March growth, though the FHFA measured somewhat less acceleration than NAR.
  • Monday, NAR reported May data that showed a slightly slower 7.9 percent year over year growth, however, both April and May rates of price growth regardless of source are stronger than would be considered normal (4 percent).
  • As long as tight housing inventory persists, we expect to see upward pressure on home prices.  Recent data on new home sales show that months supply—a measure of inventory relative to sales demand—drifted lower each month from March to May.
  • In addition to national data, FHFA releases data at the Census division level.  The most robust gains in FHFA data from a year ago were still in the West.  NAR data showed the strongest April growth in the Midwest with the South and West following closely behind.
  • According to FHFA year over year prices rose 7.5 percent in the Pacific division which includes Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California and 7.0 percent in the Mountain division which includes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.  Divisions that make up the South region had growth in excess of 6.0 percent from a year ago.
  • NAR and FHFA data both showed the smallest price gains from April one year ago in the Northeast.  NAR showed that prices grew by 3.6 percent in the Northeast and FHFA showed that prices rose 3.7 percent in New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut) and 2.3 percent in the Middle Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) from one year ago.
  • NAR reports the median price of all homes that have sold while FHFA reports the results of a weighted repeat-sales index.  For this reason, the trends in the NAR median price can differ from the trends in the weighted repeat sales index—which computes price change based on repeat sales of the same property, but they typically track very closely and the timeliness of the NAR median price data makes it a good early indicator of price conditions in the housing market.
  • FHFA sources data primarily from Fannie and Freddie mortgages, transactions using prime conventional financing, and misses out on cash transactions as well as jumbo, subprime, and government backed transactions such as those using VA or FHA financing while NAR uses data reported from Realtor-assisted transactions in the MLS.

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Danielle Hale, Director of Housing Statistics

As a Research Economist at NAR, Danielle studies tax issues, the wealth impact of home ownership, and different measures of home prices.

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