National home prices fell 11.3 percent from a year ago in August, and recently reported layoffs are likely to push foreclosure-related filings past the 3.2 million mark this year, First American CoreLogic said in releasing its latest home-price index.

Year-over-year nominal home-price declines — changes over a 12-month period, unadjusted for inflation — have held steady at around 11 percent for three consecutive months, said Mark Fleming, chief economist for First American CoreLogic.

There’s no reason to expect any improvement and, if anything, things could get worse, Fleming said.

"The current assessment is that we expect house prices to maintain their steady state or potentially begin to further accelerate downward in light of the economic pressures," Fleming said in a statement. "No news currently points to an expectation for an improvement in price levels in the near term."

Although First American CoreLogic’s projection for pre-foreclosure and foreclosure filings through the end of 2008 remains at approximately 3.2 million, "a significant increase in job losses" reported by the government in October is likely to push that figure up, Fleming said.

Foreclosure-related filings by 12 percent nationwide in September, data aggregator RealtyTrac said today, but some of the improvement was attributed to new laws in several states that stretch out the foreclosure process (see story).

First American CoreLogic reported that 34 states saw nominal year-over-year price declines in August, led by California, Arizona, Nevada and Florida.

The 12 large housing markets with the biggest declines were all in those four states. The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif., statistical area led all large markets with a 28.6 percent price decline, the company said.

Texas, South Dakota, Vermont and Mississippi eked out some price appreciation.

Six major markets — including four in Texas — saw price appreciation, First American CoreLogic said. The Austin-Round Rock, Texas, statistical area had the most annual appreciation — 4 percent — of those major markets.

Analysts with Fitch Ratings this week said that while the worst of the correction appears to be over, they expect national home prices will continue falling for the next several quarters before stabilizing in 2010.

Since peaking in 2006, national home prices have fallen by 22 percent, Fitch analysts said. They expect a further 10 percent decline over the next 18 months, bringing prices back to 2003 levels.

Fitch said its forecast is derived from Case-Shiller home-price indexes and is based on expectations that home prices will return to closer to the long-term historical mean. Worsening economic conditions, higher mortgage rates and tight underwriting could send home prices down more than projected, Fitch warned.


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