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S&P predicts more home price declines through 2011

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Standard & Poor's analysts believe home prices will drop between 7% and 10% through 2011, erasing any improvements prices have recently made. Home sales, which plummeted after the homebuyer tax credit expired in April have continued to lag. Pending home sales, which preclude existing home sale data, dipped 1.8% in September before the market goes into a winter many expect to be bleaker than usual. With this lack of demand, inventories should grow, according to S&P, while prices drop. "Low mortgage rates will likely continue to encourage refinancing, but their influence on home buying activities has been limited due to the weak housing market and a lack of demand," S&P credit analyst Erkan Erturk said. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, prices did increase 1.7% from a year ago in the 20-city index and 2.6% in the 10-city index. But in August alone, those indices fell 0.2% and 0.1% respectively. Home prices declined in 15 of the 20 metro areas. Fiserv, a financial services technology provider, said Monday in its analysis that home prices would drop another 7% before stabilizing at the end of 2011. Prices will continue to be pressed down as long as the market works through a backlog of distressed properties that remains elevated. Recent foreclosure moratoriums from major lenders because of documentation problems have only delayed this work, Erturk said. Write to Jon Prior.

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