Home prices increased at an annualized rate of 4.9% nationwide in the second quarter, down from a revised rate of 9.1% in the first quarter, according to the Conventional Mortgage Home Price Index released by Freddie Mac.The East South Central states of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee recorded the biggest price increases, with an 8.3% annualized growth rate, Freddie Mac said. The West South Central states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas experienced the second-highest annualized gains in the second quarter, with a 7.8% growth rate, and the Mountain states came in third, at 6.4%. "Although the slowdown in house price appreciation has been quite sudden, going from an annualized 13% in the fourth quarter of 2005 to less than half of that rate just six months later, there is still strength in the housing market," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist. "Single-family house sales through the first half of the year averaged 7.03 million units at an annual rate, on track to make 2006 the third-best year for home sales." The index was jointly developed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Freddie Mac's website address is http://www.freddiemac.com.

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