When Freddie Mac reported its quarterly measure of home price changes for the July-September quarter this week, it wasn't the small increase in purchase prices that caught my eye. What intrigued me was the discrepancy between the two indexes that Freddie Mac economists measure. Prices for homes bought in the third quarter increased 0.6 percent in the South Atlantic, which includes the Washington area. But when you add the value of refinancings into the measure, prices fell 2.6 percent. Amy Crews Cutts, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac, explained the discrepancy between the two indexes. It's a classic hallmark of a market that's stabilizing, she said.
There was no crackling wood fire in my fireplace this snowy weekend. Candles are the most I've been willing to burn there since the last time the chimney inspectors came through. My $49 inspection turned into a proposal for a $8,780 repair job. It's a fire hazard and a carbon monoxide hazard, the inspector said. I'm not convinced it's dangerous--then again, I'm not convinced it's safe. Hence the candles. And I have deployed three different types of carbon-monoxide detectors because if there's anything that can keep me awake at night , it's worry about dying in my sleep from an invisible, odorless, gas.