U.S. house prices rose 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s House Price Index. House prices rose 6.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2016. FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for December was up 0.4 percent from November.

House price appreciation was weakest in the Middle Atlantic, where prices rose only 0.9 percent from the last quarter.

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“Although interest rates rose sharply during the fourth quarter, our data show no signs of a home price slowdown,” said FHFA Deputy Chief Economist Andrew Leventis. “Although it will certainly take more time for the full effects of the elevated interest rates to be felt, there is no evidence of a normalization in the unusually low inventories of homes available for sale, which has been the primary force behind the extraordinary price gains.”

Home prices rose in 46 states and the District of Columbia between the fourth quarter of 2015 and the fourth quarter of 2016. The top five states in annual appreciation were: Oregon 11.0 percent; Colorado 10.6 percent; Florida 10.4 percent; Washington 10.2 percent; and Nevada 8.9 percent.

New Jersey ranked 42nd in the nation, with home prices up 3.1 percent for the year and just 0.6 percent for the quarter. Home prices are up 11.35 percent since 2011, fifth worst in the country. The Trenton area ranks 226th out of all ranked metropolitan areas in percent change in housing prices for last year.

Refinancing volume down

The Federal Housing Finance Agency also reported that 13,220 borrowers refinanced their mortgages through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) from October through December. FHFA’s fourth quarter Refinance Report also shows that total refinance volume fell in December, as mortgage interest rates increased. Total HARP refinances now stand at 3,447,671 since inception of the program in 2009.

According to new data released last month, 194,324 borrowers could still benefit financially from a HARP refinance as of the third quarter of 2016. Those borrowers meet the basic HARP eligibility requirements, have a remaining balance of $50,000 or more on their mortgage, have a remaining term on their loan of greater than 10 years, and their mortgage interest rate is at least 1.5 percent higher than current market rates.

Those borrowers could save, on average, $2,400 per year by refinancing their mortgage through HARP. See the new, updated U.S. map showing the number of HARP-eligible borrowers by state, Metropolitan Statistical Area, county and zip code. HARP expires Sept. 30, 2017.

January home sales

In the Hopewell Valley. Dollar figures in parentheses are amounts above or below asking prices.

312 Hale St. on Jan. 5. Seller: William and Elizabeth Compton. Buyer: Joseph and Jennifer Defilippi. 4BR single-family house. $661,500 (+$12,500).

122 E. Delaware Ave. on Jan. 5. Seller: Craig and Evelyn Mohr. Buyer: William and Elizabeth Compton. 4BR single-family house. $689,000 (-$60,000).

12 Birch St. on Jan. 10. Seller: Dybfest-Mackenzie Family Trust. Buyer: Nigel Smith and Noriko Manabe. 5BR single-family house. $1,356,500 (-$42,500).

231 Hopewell-Amwell Road. Seller: Elizabeth and Reid Murray. Buyer: Paley and Lauren Dreier. 4BR single-family house. $978,520 (-$16,480).

14 Elm St. on Jan. 17. Seller: Hasan Tutun and Ozgecan Uluscu. Buyer: David and Joy Caldwell. 4BR single-family house. $550,000 (-$45,000).

7 Burd St. Seller: William Ponton and Semsa Gogcu. Buyer: Lori Prapas and Piti Prapassiriphan. 3BR single-family house. $362,750 (-$35,250).

3 Stanford Road E. on Jan. 19. Seller: Joseph and Jennifer Defilippi. Buyer: Cecilia Savas. 2BR single-family house. $300,000 (-$10,000).

4 Cedar Brook Terrace on Jan. 20. Seller: Joan Stevens. Buyer: Samantha and Krzysztof Kowalski. 5BR single-family house. $550,000 (-$48,500).

23 Diverty Road on Jan. 20. Seller: Patrick Sunseri. Buyer: Caitlin and David Stratuik. 5BR single-family house. $385,000 (+$5,100).

113 W. Broad St. on Jan. 20. Seller: Thomas and Joann Ennis. Buyer: Oxford Residential Development. 3BR single-family house. $299,900.

3 Miller Circle on Jan. 25. Seller: David Dejean. Buyer: Fang Ming. 3BR townhouse. $372,000 (-$25,000).

24 Plymouth St. on Jan. 27. Seller: John and Deborah Conard. Buyer: Lubing and Qiuyan Wang. 4BR single-family house. $485,000 (-$14,000).

280 Carter Road on Jan. 27. Seller: Paul Haus Jr. Buyer: TCMC LLC. 3BR single-family house. $464,000 (-$25,000).

14 Weidel Drive on Jan. 27. Seller: James Morrison Trust. Buyer: Jeannine and Matthew Eaton. 3BR single-family house. $435,000 (-$60,000).

111 Hopewell Wertsville Road on Jan. 27. Seller: Cynthia Daniels. 4BR single-family house. $415,000 (+$10,000).