FHFA House Price Index

The FHFA House Price Index (FHFA HPI) is a broad economic measure of the movement of single family house prices in the United States. The production of the FHFA HPI is statutorily mandated (12 U.S.C. 4542) but it began in 1995 with one of FHFA's predecessor agencies, the Office of the Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). The initial reports contained information about regional and national house price movements. Sample coverage has expanded with better access to new data sources and technological improvements for processing such information. Today, indexes cover all 50 states and over 400 American cities while extending back to the mid-1970s. FHFA constructs several indexes for different market geographies and periods. The entire suite of indexes is often referenced, in a general sense, as the “FHFA HPI” to reflect that all indexes are created in the same technical manner. The flagship FHFA HPI is the purchase-only index which uses seasonally adjusted, purchase-only data; the index is the most common choice for press releases, news stories, and social media. Additional indexes have been created to address questions about house price changes in other market segments like with refinances, FHA mortgages, or the entire single-family property market. Data constraints preclude the production of some kinds of indexes in certain geographic areas, but multiple index types (flavors) are generally available. Quarterly reports usually contain index flavors such as:  “Purchase-Only” HPI: Tracks changes in transaction prices for conforming, conventional mortgages that are purchased or securitized.  “All-Transactions” HPI: Appraisal values from refinance mortgages are added to the PurchaseOnly HPI data sample.  “Expanded-Data” HPI: Sales price information sourced from county recorder offices and from FHA-backed mortgages are added to the Purchase-Only HPI data sample. This index is used to adjust the conforming loan limits, which establish the dollar amount of loans that can be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac  “Distress-Free” HPI: Sales of bank-owned properties and short sales are removed from the Purchase-Only dataset prior to estimation of the index.  “Annual” HPI. Uses the All-Transactions data but indexes are constructed on a yearly basis to provide data for very small geographic areas like counties, ZIP codes, and census tracts.