Tuesday, November 29, 2011

U.S. home prices rose in September 2011

World Economic outlook - U.S. home prices rose in September 2011 : U.S. home prices rose in September after declining a month earlier, a government agency said Tuesday, highlighting continued uncertainty for a weak part of the economy.

Home prices rose 0.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis from a month earlier, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's monthly home-price index.

The results were better than expected. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected a 0.1% monthly increase. Prices in August were down 0.2% from a month earlier, revised from an originally reported 0.1% decrease.

Compared with a year earlier, prices were down 2.2%. September's index value was 184.4. A reading of 100 is equal to the price of homes in January 1991. On a quarterly basis, home prices rose 0.2% from the prior quarter. But they were down 3.7% from the same quarter in 2010.

"In most regions of the country, third-quarter home values were relatively stable, even in some areas that experienced sharp price declines in preceding quarters," said Andrew Leventis, principal economist at the federal housing agency.

The FHFA's index is calculated by using the prices of houses purchased with mortgages backed by government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC).

Meanwhile, another reading of the market showed prices in 20 large cities fell in September from a month earlier, the first decline after five straight monthly increases.

The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller index of 20 major metropolitan areas was down 0.6% in September from a month earlier, both on a seasonally adjusted and an unadjusted basis. In the third quarter, U.S. home prices were up 0.1% from the second quarter but were down 3.9% from the same quarter a year earlier.

The housing market remains sluggish despite soft prices and mortgage rates that have been hovering around historic lows. A weak job market, abundant foreclosures and tighter mortgage-lending requirements have continued to hamper the market's recovery.

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