Home prices increased at an annualized rate of 4.9% nationwide in the fourth quarter, up from a revised rate of 4.4% in the third quarter, according to the Conventional Mortgage Home Price Index released by Freddie Mac.The Mountain states recorded the biggest price increases, with an 8.0% annualized growth rate, Freddie Mac said. The South Atlantic states of Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, plus the District of Columbia, experienced the second-highest annualized gains in the fourth quarter, with a 7.7% growth rate, and the West South Central states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas came in third, at 6.3%. "Home values grew 6.1% during 2006, down from the year-over-year growth rate of 8.0% that we saw in the third quarter, and less than half the rate of appreciation of 13.3% that we enjoyed in 2005," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist. "The CMHPI tends to lag other indicators of home-value change because some of the information is based on appraisal data, which can be based on home sales prices a few months earlier." 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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