Average U.S. home prices increased nearly 13 percent from the third quarter of 2003 to the third quarter of this year, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight’s house price index.

Appreciation for the most recent quarter was 4.62 percent, or an annualized rate of 18.5 percent.

“The appreciation reflected in this quarter’s report shows further acceleration from already rapid increases,” said Armando Falcon Jr., director of OFHEO. “The growth in house prices over the past year surpasses any increase in 25 years.”

OFHEO’s chief economist Patrick Lawler said the increase is particularly steep compared to the price of non-housing goods and services.

“House prices grew 12.97 percent in the past year, while other goods and services as measured by the consumer price index grew 2.68 percent,” Lawler said.

Lawler said continued low interest rates as well as a drop in the number of refinancings have likely contributed to the large house price increases in the third quarter.

During the previous period of intense refinancing, increases in the housing price index may have been held down because appraised values used for refinancing mortgages with low loan-to-value ratios may not have kept up with recent market price increases, according to OFHEO.

Nevada’s house prices grew the most over the past year at 35.8 percent, according to the index. The Las Vegas-Paradise metropolitan area saw a price appreciation of 41.7 percent, the highest of any metropolitan area.

Hawaii came in with the second highest statewide appreciation with 28.3 percent, followed by California at 27.2 percent, the District of Columbia at 23.9 percent and Rhode Island at 22.5 percent. The smallest increases occurred in Indiana, Utah and Texas.

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