Case-Shiller: Real estate prices 'dismal' in January

Year-over-year index levels fall in 18 of 20 markets

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Home prices in 20 major metropolitan areas fell 3.1 percent year-over-year in January, prompting Standard & Poor’s to declare "home prices off to a dismal start in 2011" in its latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report released today.

The 20-city composite index fell 1 percent in January compared to December, to 140.86. The indices have a base value of 100; a value above 100 indicates the appreciation rate of a typical home in the tracked markets since January 2000. Average home prices are back to the levels they were in the summer of 2003, the report said.

Out of the 20 markets tracked, 19 saw their index levels fall month-to-month in January, and the index in the remaining market, Washington, D.C., stayed essentially flat, with a 0.1 percent increase —