U.S. home prices increased 0.83% in fourth quarter

March 09, 2003|By Bloomberg News

U.S. home prices rose 0.83 percent in the fourth quarter, the smallest gain in five years, as the economy slowed, a government report showed last week.

The rate of increase dropped from a revised 1.46 percent gain in the prior quarter and a 2.38 percent jump in the second quarter, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, a government agency that oversees mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In Maryland, home prices rose 1.27 percent in the quarter and 10.82 percent for the year - the sixth best in the nation.

The report suggests that the housing market, one of the few bright spots in the economy, is cooling as unemployment rises and consumer spending drops.

"We've been predicting all along that we would see an eventual deceleration back to historical trends and it looks like that is what we are seeing now," said Shelly Dreiman, a senior economist at the federal agency. "We don't see anything like a drastic deceleration or an imminent decline at this point."

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