U.S. Home Prices Jump 13%

Average U.S. home prices leaped nearly 13 percent from the fourth quarter of 2004 to the same period last year, showing no signs of a slowdown during the period, federal regulators reported Wednesday.

The figures released by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, the agency that oversees the big mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, indicated that while housing prices appear now to be cooling, they continued to increase sharply last year.

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While home prices continue to slow in some regions, the rate of increase "generally is still extremely strong," OFHEO's chief economist, Patrick Lawler, said in a statement issued with the report. "Mortgage rates climbed significantly during the second half of last year, but the effect of that increase on (home price rises) so far appears to be limited."

The agency noted that house prices continued to grow far more rapidly over the past year than prices of other goods and services included in the Consumer Price Index — 12.95 percent versus 4.3 percent.

Average home prices rose 12.95 percent on an annualized basis from the October-December quarter of 2004 to the fourth quarter of 2005, the new report showed. That was up from a revised 12.55 percent increase from the third quarter of 2004 to the same quarter last year.