PhotoThe price of houses was on the rise in the first quarter of the year.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reports its House Price Index (HPI) was up 1.4% from the final three months of 2016 and 6.0% from the same period a year earlier. The seasonally adjusted monthly index for March was up 0.6% from February.

"The steep, multi-year rise in U.S. home prices continued in the first quarter," said FHFA Deputy Chief Economist Andrew Leventis. "Mortgage rates during the quarter remained slightly elevated relative to most of last year, but demand for homes remained very strong. With housing inventories still languishing at extremely low levels, the strong demand led to another exceptionally large quarterly price increase."

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Report highlights

  • Home prices rose in 48 states and the District of Columbia between the first quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. The top five areas in annual appreciation were: 1) District of Columbia 13.9%; 2) Colorado 10.7%; 3) Idaho 10.3% 4) Washington 10.2%; and 5) New Hampshire 9.5%.
  • Among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., annual price increases were greatest in the Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI, where they shot up 13.7%. Prices were weakest in San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA (MSAD), where they lost 2.5%.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the Pacific division experienced the strongest increase in the first quarter, posting a 2.0% quarter-to-quarter gain and a 7.7% increase from the first quarter of last year. House price appreciation was weakest in the Middle Atlantic division, where prices were up just 1.0% from the previous three-month period quarter.

The complete report is available on the FHFA website.

Zillow checks in

Meanwhile, Zillow reports that prices as measured by its Home Value Index are finally back.

The online real estate marketplace says the national median home value climbed 7.3% last month from April 2016 -- to $198,000. That surpassed the pre-recession peak of $196,600 set in April 2007.

Jobless claims

From the Labor Department (DOL), word that initial jobless claims inched higher last week.

First-time applications for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 234,000 in the week ending May 20. That's a gain of 1,000 from the previous week's level, which was revised upward to by 1,000.

The 4-week moving average, considered by many economists to give a more accurate picture of the labor market because of its low volatility level, was down 5,750 to was 235,250 -- the lowest level for since April 14, 1973.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.



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