Average U.S. home prices jumped 12.02 percent in the third quarter, compared with the same period last year, slower than the record pace of the previous quarter yet still a strong increase, federal regulators reported yesterday.

The figures released by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, the agency that oversees mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were the latest sign of a gradual cooling of the housing market.

Rates of increase in home prices "were extremely strong, although some deceleration can be seen in a number of the faster-appreciating markets," OFHEO's chief economist, Patrick Lawler, said in a statement. "Price momentum in the Pacific and New England states, in particular, has pulled back."

Locally, prices continued to increase at a rate well above the national average but more slowly than in the previous quarter. In the District, the year-over-year increase was 20.53 percent. In the state of Maryland, it was 19.29 percent, and it was 18.66 percent in the commonwealth of Virginia. In the Washington metropolitan area, the increase was 21.32 percent.

The agency noted that house prices grew far more rapidly over the past year than prices of other goods and services included in the Consumer Price Index -- 12 percent versus 4.5 percent.

The third-quarter increase was down from a 13.4 percent year-over-year increase in the second quarter, which was the biggest rise for a comparable span in more than a quarter-century.

The third-quarter figure is derived from an average of prices in July, August and September. Prices in that period were up 2.86 percent from the second quarter. The report does not provide actual prices, only rates of change.

The report, based on data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on repeat sales and refinancings of single-family homes, also found that:

* Growth in home prices in Arizona continues to accelerate, with a one-year rate of increase of 30 percent -- the largest of any state by a wide margin.

* Florida took the No. 2 spot, with a one-year rate of increase of 25 percent. Eleven of the 20 priciest metropolitan areas for homes nationwide are located in the state.

* Nevada's one-year appreciation rate dropped by more than 10 percentage points, to 17.6 percent from 28.6 percent. For the first time since the fourth quarter of 2003, the top 20 metropolitan areas do not include any Nevada cities.

In the Washington metropolitan area, the third-quarter year-over-year increase in home prices was 21.32 percent.