Home prices fell in the fourth quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, but at a lower rate than the first three quarters of 2009, Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Indices

Home prices fell in the fourth quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, but at a lower year-over-year rate than the first three quarters of 2009, according to a Standard and Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price report released today.

Home prices dropped 2.5 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter, compared to year-over-year drops of 19 percent in the first quarter, 14.7 percent in the second, and 8.7 percent in the first, according to the report.

"As measured by prices, the housing market is definitely in better shape than it was this time last year, as the pace of deterioration has stabilized for now. However, the rate of improvement seen during the summer of 2009 has not been sustained," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s, in a statement.

As of last quarter, home prices are at the same level they were in the summer of 2003, the report said.

The S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index tracks single-family home values in the nine U.S. census divisions quarterly. The S&P tracks the 10-city and 20-city home price indices monthly. The indices have a base value of 100 and anything above 100 represents the percentage of home value appreciation since January 2000.

The national index for the fourth quarter was 136.09, meaning home values have increased about 36 percent since January 2000. The figure represents a 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted quarterly increase, a 1.1 percent non-seasonally adjusted quarterly decline and a 2.5 percent year-over-year decline.

The first quarter of 2009 saw a record year-over-year decline since the index’s launch in 2006: 19.1 percent.

The 10-city composite posted an index of 158.18 in December, a non-seasonally-adjusted month-to-month decline of 0.2 percent and a year-over-year decline of 2.4 percent. The 20-city composite posted a 145.9 index for the same month, also a non-seasonally-adjusted month-to-month decline of 0.2 percent, and a year-over-year decline of 3.1 percent.

Both composites have been improving steadily since the beginning of 2009, the report said.

When seasonally adjusted, the monthly price index remained even or increased in 15 of 20 market areas tracked from November to December, according to the report, with the 20-city composite rising 0.3 percent.

In the non-seasonally adjusted statistics, 15 out of 20 metro areas posted declines in December. Chicago dipped the most with a 1.6 percent drop, followed by Dallas with a 0.9 percent drop.

Las Vegas posted its first monthly increase in three years with a 0.2 percent rise, the report said. Los Angeles rose 1 percent, Phoenix rose 0.5 percent, San Diego rose 0.1 percent, and Detroit stayed flat.

San Francisco posted the highest year-over-year increase at 4.8 percent, while Las Vegas posted the largest year-over-year decline at 20.6 percent. 

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