Home prices were up strongly in March among homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported today. The agency’s monthly purchase-only index beat expectations with a 1.8% jump for the month, bringing prices 2.7% higher than their year-ago level. The jump was the highest seen at least 20 years (data start in 1991).

The quarterly purchase-only index, also released today, was up 0.6% from the fourth quarter of 2011 and improved 0.5% year-over-year—the first annual increase since 2007.

However, the improvement diminished in the agency’s expanded data index, which includes transaction information from Fannie and Freddie as well as data from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and county recorder offices. That index ticked up only 0.2% in the first quarter and declined 1.3% over the past year.

See FHFA’s full release discussing April’s House Price Indices.

Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Greenville, SC.