Prices were down from a year ago January in all 20 metro areas tracked by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, with 13 of those markets seeing the steepest rates of decline since the downturn began.

Prices fell by more than 10 percent in 14 of the 20 metro areas tracked by the indices, and more than 20 percent in nine. The 20-city composite was down a record 19 percent from a year ago, and 29.1 percent from its peak, as average home prices returned to levels last seen in late 2003, Standard & Poor’s said.

The data offer "very few bright spots," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor’s, in a press release, although Cleveland, Los Angeles and Las Vegas did see less drastic year-over-year price declines in January than in December.

Looking at month-to-month trends, all 20 markets saw prices fall from December to January, pushing the 20-city composite index down by 2.8 percent — a steeper decline than the 2.6 percent registered in December.

The pace of month-to-month declines accelerated in 13 markets, but eased in five others: Las Vegas, Charlotte, Minneapolis, New York and Washington, D.C. In Dallas and Seattle, the rate of month-to-month price declines was essentialy the same in December and January.

The three worst-performing markets in terms of annual declines were Phoenix (down 35 percent), Las Vegas (down 32.5 percent) and San Francisco (down 32.4 percent). Looking back a year, the best-performing markets were Dallas (down 4.9 percent), Denver (down 5.1 percent) and Cleveland (down 5.2 percent).

According to the indices, Phoenix has seen prices fall 48.5 percent from their June 2006 peak, while the decline for Dallas since a June 2007 peak was a more modest 10.8 percent.

Some critics say the S&P/Case-Shiller indices and others relying on repeat sales have overstated recent price declines because a high percentage of sales are of distressed properties. …CONTINUED

The National Association of Realtors estimates that distressed sales accounted for 40 to 45 percent of existing-home sales in February, with the median home price down 15.5 percent from a year ago (see story).

The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s monthly House Price Index, which does not include homes purchased with mortgages too large or risky for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, showed U.S. home prices rose a seasonally adjusted 1.7 percent from December to January. But the change was largely explained by a change in the geographic mix of sales, with increased transactions in the strongest markets, FHFA said.

That index shows U.S. home prices down 6.3 percent from a year ago and 9.6 percent below their April 2007 peak (see story).

S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices

Metropolitan area

December-to- January change

One-year change

























Las Vegas



Los Angeles









New York









San Diego



San Francisco









Washington, D.C.



10-city composite



20-city composite



Source: Standard & Poor’s and Fiserv data


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