The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices rose by a seasonally-adjusted rate of 0.30 percent in January, and were 5.10 percent higher as compared to home prices in January 2014.
FHFA oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and its home price report is based on sales of homes financed by mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Month- to- Month FHFA Home Prices Mixed
Month to month home price data was mixed for January. Home prices ranged from -0.40 percent in the Middle and South Atlantic census divisions to +2.30 percent in the East South Central census division.
Month-to month readings are considered more volatile than year-over-year home price readings. Year-over-year readings for all nine U.S. census divisions were positive and ranged from a 1.70 percent increase in the Middle Atlantic division to an increase of 8.20 percent in the Pacific division. This suggests that overall, home prices are gaining, but slowly.
Commerce Department: New Home Sales Hit 7-Year Peak
In an unrelated report, the Commerce Department reported that February sales of new homes reached a seven-year peak with 539,000 sales of new homes expected on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. This was significantly higher than the expected reading of 455,000 new home sales and was also higher than the revised reading of 500,000 new home sales in January.
Analysts said that this positive reading may indicate a robust sales for the peak spring and summer home buying season. The reading for new home sales in February was nearly 25 percent higher than for February 2014.
In spite of this good news, analysts cautioned that the new home sales numbers are often volatile, and future revisions could result in lower sales figures for new homes.
With jobs increasing and mortgage rates remaining relatively low, more homebuyers may enter the market and boost home sales. Tight mortgage lending standards remain an obstacle for would-be buyers with less than stellar credit scores.