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Home Prices Edge Up 0.1% in December

ups-and-downs-graphAfter three months of declines, home prices in the United States finished out 2014 with a marginal month-over-month pickup, according to a measure released Tuesday.

The latest price index from FNC Inc. [1] shows the nation's average home price moved up 0.1 percent in December, turning around after a 0.1 percent decline in October and no notable change in November. The index, which is the first of several December price gauges due this month, excludes final sales of REO and foreclosed properties, which are usually sold at significant discount.

Home prices fell 0.2 percent through 2014's fourth quarter compared to the third, putting annual growth at about 5 percent compared to 5.2 percent in November and 5.7 percent in October.

Taking a narrower view: FNC's 30-city index also increased 0.1 percent month-over-month, finishing the quarter down 0.3 percent from Q3 and closing the year 5.1 percent above 2013. The 10-city index fared worse, posting a month-over-month drop of 0.2 percent, a quarterly drop of 0.9 percent, and a much slower year-over-year increase of 4.4 percent.

Month-to-month, home prices ticked up in December in two-thirds of markets tracked for the 30-market composite, with Miami leading the pack with 2.3 percent growth (following a similarly strong November). St. Louis and Detroit ranked second and third with more modest increases of 1.5 percent and 1.4 percent.

At the other end, Nashville was the weakest market in December, posting a monthly price decline of 2.5 percent. Also performing poorly were San Francisco and New York, which each recorded a fifth consecutive month of falling prices at 1.9 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively. San Francisco had a particularly rough quarter, seeing average monthly price drops of 1.9 percent, putting its quarter-end index down 5.3 percent compared to Q3.

On an annual basis, 25 metros experienced price appreciation, with four going into double digits: Orlando (14.5 percent), Riverside (12.9 percent), Las Vegas (12.7 percent), and Miami (11.5 percent).

Among the slower markets in December were Nashville, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., which joined Baltimore and St. Louis on the list of cities experience depreciating. Nashville and San Francisco saw the biggest losses at 0.9 percent each.