Home prices gain in 4 of 9 U.S. regions

Freddie Mac index falls 0.4% overall in Q4 '09

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Home prices fell 0.4 percent in the last three months of 2009 compared to the same period a year earlier, with four of nine regions posting gains, according to a home price index published by Freddie Mac.

The Conventional Mortgage Home Price Index — which tracks resales of homes with mortgages owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae — was registering a 9.5 percent year-over-year decline at the same point in 2008.

Low interest rates and the first-time homebuyer tax credit helped boost home sales to their highest level in 2 1/2 years during the final quarter of 2009 after a seasonal adjustment, said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.