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House prices slip 2.5% in first quarter, FHFA says

House prices slip 2.5% in first quarter, FHFA says (by Steve Goldstein)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. house prices fell a seasonally adjusted 2.5% in the first quarter and 0.3% in March, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said Wednesday, using home sales price information from Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-acquired mortgages. The 12-month-ending-March index is 19.8% below its April 2007 peak. "In many local real estate markets, particularly those hit hard by this cycle, foreclosures and other distressed properties are still a key factor in recorded and anticipated future sales and may be delaying price stability or recovery. Fortunately, serious delinquency rates also are declining," said FHFA Acting Director Edward DeMarco. The FHFA also made what it called minor changes to its methodology; under the old rules, March prices would have been flat while the first-quarter drop would have been a steeper 3%.