Home Prices Fall Record 19.4 Percent in January: Report

Home prices in major metropolitan areas fell at a record pace during January, underscoring a housing market in many key areas of the U.S. that is still stuck in 'price correction' mode. According to the widely-watched Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price indices, prices fell 19.4 percent in 10 key cities during Janaury versus one year earlier, while a 20-city index fell 19.0 percent. Both represent record annual price declines, S&P said in a press statement. The S&P data provides evidence of continued broad -based declines in the prices of existing single family homes across the United States, with 13 of the 20 metro areas measured in the monthly Case-Shiller data series showing record rates of annual decline, and 14 reporting declines January 2008. “Home prices, which peaked in mid-2006, continued their decline in 2009,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index committee at Standard & Poor’s. “There are very few bright spots that one can see in the data. Most of the nation appears to remain on a downward path, with all of the 20 metro areas reporting annual declines, and nine of the MSA’s falling more than 20 percent in the last year. Both the 10-city and 20-city composite price indices have been recording monthly price declines for thirty consecutive months, Blitzer added. Average home prices in the U.S. are now at levels last seen in late 2003. Phoenix led with a report of -5.5 percent during January. Every MSA has had at least five consecutive months of decline, dating back to September 2008. On a marginally positive note, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are reporting a relative improvement in year-over-year returns, in terms of lesser rates of decline than last month’s values. Furthermore, Las Vegas, along with five other metro areas, showed a marginal improvement in monthly returns -- albeit still negative. The three worst performing cities, in terms of annual declines, continue to be from the Sunbelt, each reporting negative returns in excess of 30 percent. Phoenix was down 35.0 percent, Las Vegas declined 32.5 percent and San Francisco fell 32.4 percent. Dallas, Denver and Cleveland faired the best in terms of annual declines, down 4.9 percent, 5.1 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively, S&P said. Interestingly, the nation's best major metropolitan area -- Dallas -- has still seen home prices fall 10.8 percent from that market's peak in June 2007. At least Dallas isn't Phoenix: the hard-hit city has seen prices fall 48.5 percent from a June 2006 peak in home prices, S&P said. Write to Paul Jackson at paul.jackson@housingwire.com.

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