U.S. house prices rose in the first quarter of 2020, up 1.7% according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI). House prices rose 5.7% from the first quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020. FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for March was up 0.% from February.

“Home price growth in the first quarter outpaced annual growth from the same period a year ago as falling interest rates and shrinking inventories for sale led prices higher just prior to the crisis. Prices in the Mountain Division, encompassing the top four states by growth, grew by 8% on a year over year basis,” said Dr. Lynn Fisher, deputy director of the Division of Research and Statistics at FHFA. “Because of the lag between contract signing and sale closing when our data are recorded, we judge the first quarter’s housing statistics were relatively unaffected by the COVID-19 outbreak. However, we are unable to account for any modifications or cancellations of sales later in March.”

Significant Findings
House prices have risen for 35 consecutive quarters, or since September 2011. House prices rose in 48 states and the District of Columbia between the first quarters of 2019 and 2020. The top five areas in annual appreciation were: 1) Idaho 12.6%; 2) Montana 10.2%; 3) Wyoming 9.9%; 4) Utah 9.0%; and 5) Hawaii 8.8%. The areas showing the lowest annual appreciation were: 1) West Virginia -2.1%; 2) Alaska -0.1%; 3) North Dakota 0.4%; 4) Illinois 2.5%; and 5) Connecticut 3.0%. House prices rose in all top 100 of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. over the last four quarters. Annual price increases were greatest in Boise City, ID, where prices increased by 13.1%. Prices were weakest in Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI (MSAD), where they increased by 0.4%. Of the nine census divisions, the Mountain division experienced the strongest four-quarter appreciation, posting an 8.0% gain between the first quarters of 2019 and 2020 and a 2.5% increase in the first quarter of 2020. Annual house price appreciation was weakest in the West South Central division, where prices rose by 4.3% between the first quarters of 2019 and 2020.