U.S. home prices rise higher than expected in 4Q

U.S. house prices rose 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI).

According to the HPI for December, prices rose 0.8 percent. Which was generally predicted an increase smaller than 0.5%. The December increase follows a similar November increase of 0.8%.

 It's the HPI's fourteenth consecutive quarterly price increase in the purchase-only. In a year-to-year comparison of housing prices, the fourth quarter saw a 4.9% increase.

The HPI is calculated using home sale price information from mortgages sold it, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Since it looks at repeat sales of the same homes over time, it's generally considered an accurate gauge or home values.

According to Andrew Leventis, FHFA Principal Economist, "the key drivers of appreciation over the last few years - low inventories of homes available for sale and improvement in labor markets - likely played a role in driving up prices during the quarter."