U.S. home prices rose a seasonally adjusted 1.7 percent from December to January, driven by a disproportionate number of sales in strong markets, according to a home-price index that tracks repeat sales of homes purchased with mortgages purchased or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Federal Housing Finance Agency's monthly House Price Index showed U.S. home prices down 6.3 percent from a year ago and 9.6 percent below their April 2007 peak. Because the index does not include mortgages too large or risky for Fannie and Freddie, it can understate both price increases and price declines. FHFA said the unexpected increase in the index from December to January -- the first in a year -- was largely explained by changes in the geographic mix of sales, with stronger markets seeing a disproportionate share of transactions. Adjusting for that effect, home prices would still have crept up in January, but the change "would have been far less dramatic," FHFA said ...
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