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First Cut: FHFA House Price Index strong in February, but before coronavirus affected housing market

The FHFA House Price Index was up 0.7% in February from January, a solid gain that was nearly on par with the month-over-month up 0.8% in September and December 2019. Home prices were up 5.8% compared to a year earlier, the strongest since up 5.8% in January 2019. Consumers were active in homebuying in February while the labor market was strong with better job security and rising wages, and mortgage interest rates were more-or-less in line with three-year lows. However, these numbers were taken before measures to check the spread of COVID-19 were imposed in March. The absence of buyers — unless very well qualified — in the market is more likely to keep upward price movements for existing homes in check and the size of refinancing smaller in the coming months.

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