House prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8% for December, according to a Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) report (link opens as PDF) released today. Closing out 2013, this latest month's report also marks the 10th straight quarter of housing price increases as Q4 saw 1.2% seasonally adjusted gains. FHFA said home price appreciation was "considerable" but "more modest" than previous quarters.
After dipping down a revised 0.1% for November, December's index increase proved a pleasant surprise for analysts, who had expected a smaller 0.3% bump. While national numbers continue to push higher, price moves remain regional. West Coast and far Southeast states saw major gains, but other states saw prices fall as much as 1.8% in the last quarter.
The FHFA House Price Index is calculated using single-family home sales price information from mortgages sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and, at current levels, is comparable to readings from May 2005.
While home prices head higher, FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis says reasons remain unclear as to why exactly people are paying more:
Home price appreciation in the fourth quarter was considerable, but more modest than in recent periods. It is too early to know whether the lower quarterly growth rate represents the beginning of more normalized price appreciation patterns or a more significant slowdown.