Although the cost of an average single-family home in the U.S. dropped by an annualized rate of 1.4 percent during the third quarter of 2007 in Morgantown, home prices continue to rise.

The rate of increase has slowed, however, during the past year, according to the latest Morgantown Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) Economic Monitor issued by the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics. The Morgantown MSA includes Monongalia and Preston counties.

“Single-family house price appreciation in the Morgantown MSA during the past year was nearly one half that of the previous four-quarter period,”said George W. Hammond, associate director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

House price appreciation in the U.S. fell from a rate of 7.5 percent during 2005-06 to 1.8 percent during the most recent year.

In the Morgantown MSA after experiencing an average annual growth rate of 8.3 percent from the third quarter of 2005 to the third quarter of 2006house price appreciation declined to 4.5 percent during the following year, according to data from the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

Nonetheless, the slowing of house price appreciation in the Morgantown MSA is not as large as in other MSAs throughout West Virginia.

The Washington, D.C., Hagerstown, Md., and Winchester, Va., MSAs experienced outright house price declines between the third quarter of 2006 and the third quarter of 2007.

“This reflects the housing correction under way in those metropolitan areas, which resulted from the boom in house price appreciation during the first half of the decade,”Hammond said.”Since house price appreciation in Morgantown did not hit the same high levels, and local economic growth remains robust, the local economy is better positioned to avoid outright house price declines.”

In addition, the house price deceleration has struck West Virginia. The state posted a 3.6 percent house price appreciation rate between 2006 and 2007, which is 3.1 percentage points less than the previous four quarters.

The December edition of the Morgantown MSA Economic Monitor, compiled by the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research, contains the full analysis of these trends.

The Monitor is a quarterly publication of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research with underwriting support provided in part by Clear Mountain Bank. Copies of the publication can be found online athttp://www.bber.wvu.eduand