The annual rate of price declines slowed from July to August in 19 of 20 metro areas tracked by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, marking seven months of improved readings, Standard & Poor’s said today in releasing the latest numbers.

The 20-city composite was down 11.3 percent in August compared to a year ago, with price drops in individual metro areas ranging from a high of 29.9 percent in Las Vegas to a low of 1.2 percent in Dallas.

The annual rate of price declines slowed from July to August in 19 of 20 metro areas tracked by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, marking seven months of improved readings, Standard & Poor’s said today in releasing the latest numbers.

The 20-city composite was down 11.3 percent in August compared to a year ago, with price drops in individual metro areas ranging from a high of 29.9 percent in Las Vegas to a low of 1.2 percent in Dallas.

In July, the 20-city composite was down 13.3 percent from a year ago, with annual price declines ranging from 31.4 percent in Las Vegas to 1.3 percent in Cleveland.

Cleveland was one of only three markets to register month-over-month price declines from July to August, and the only metro area in which the annual rate of price declines did not improve from July to August.

The S&P/Case-Shiller indices showed home prices in Cleveland down 2.8 percent from a year ago, and falling 0.5 percent from July to August. The other markets registering month-over-month declines were Charlotte, N.C. (-0.4 percent), and Las Vegas (-0.3 percent).

With the relative improvement of the past few months, the 20-city composite index is down 29.3 percent from its peak in the second quarter of 2006, compared with 32.6 percent in April, when the index bottomed.

While the rate of annual decline in home-price values continues to improve, the upcoming expiration of the federal first-time homebuyer tax credit in November and anticipated higher unemployment rates through year-end may have a dampening effect on home prices, said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s, in a statement.

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