House-price appreciation continued at a robust pace at the end of 2005, with average home prices increasing 12.95 percent from the fourth quarter 2004 through the fourth quarter 2005, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

Appreciation for the most recent quarter was 2.86 percent, or an annualized rate of 11.4 percent, according to OFHEO’s figures released last week. The increase during 2005 is similar to the revised increase of 12.55 percent for the year ended with the third quarter of 2005, showing no evidence of a slowdown in average prices.

“Despite recent indications that a slowdown may be forthcoming, house-price appreciation during 2005 continued to hover at near-record levels,” said OFHEO Chief Economist Patrick Lawler.

House prices continued to grow considerably faster over the past year than did prices of non-housing goods and services reflected in the Consumer Price Index. House prices rose 12.95 percent, while prices of other goods and services rose only 4.3 percent.

“While deceleration continues in some areas, appreciation generally is still extremely strong,” said Lawler. “Mortgage rates climbed significantly during the second half of last year, but the effect of that increase on price appreciation so far appears to be limited.”

Significant findings in the OFHEO index included:

  • Four-quarter appreciation rates were at record levels in 26 metropolitan areas including Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.; El Paso, Texas; and Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

  • Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz., continues to be the metropolitan statistical area with the greatest appreciation rate of 39.7 percent.

  • Appreciation in Arizona continues to surpass price growth in other parts of the country by a wide margin. Appreciation was 34.9 percent between the fourth quarter of 2004 and the fourth quarter of 2005. This is more than eight percentage points greater than the rate in Florida, the second-fastest-appreciating state.

  • The Mountain Census Division became the fastest appreciating area of the country, edging out the Pacific Census Division. The area with the slowest price growth continues to be the East North Central Division, which includes Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

  • Price growth in the South Atlantic Census Division, which includes East Coast states from Maryland to Florida, was at its highest rate since 1975, the beginning of the period covered in OFHEO’s index. Home prices grew by 17.81 percent between the fourth quarter of 2004 and the fourth quarter of 2005.

  • For the first time since the third quarter of 2003, one of the MSAs included in OFHEO’s appreciation-rate ranking experienced a four-quarter price decline. Prices in Burlington, N.C., fell by approximately one percent between the fourth quarter of 2004 and the fourth quarter of 2005.

OFHEO’s index is based on analysis of data obtained from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from more than 31.2 million repeat transactions over the past 31 years. OFHEO analyzes the combined mortgage records of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which form the nation’s largest database of conventional, conforming mortgage transactions. The conforming loan limit for mortgages purchased in 2005 was $359,650. The limit for 2006 is $417,000.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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