U.S. home prices continued to decline in the final two months of 2011, with the average selling price hitting $199,000 in November, a 0.6% drop from October, Lender Processing Services (LPS) said.

November was the fifth consecutive month of declines and home prices are back to 2002 levels, the LPS Applied Analytics team said. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based technology and mortgage data analytics firm tracks home prices in 13,500 ZIP codes.

Preliminary data for December shows prices may have fallen another 0.8% during the final month of 2011.

"Since the post-bubble drop in home prices eased in January of 2009, we've generally seen that prices for homes in the lowest 20% of local markets in the metropolitan areas covered by the LPS HPI now differ by more than the highest 20% from their levels 10 years ago," said Kyle Lundstedt, managing director of LPS Applied Analytics.

"In those metropolitan areas where lowest-priced homes have increased in value, the differences between the high and low ends of the market have usually shrunk; where they have decreased in value, the differences have grown," Lundstedt said.

Since the market peak in June 2006, the value of the U.S. housing inventory has plummeted 30.6% to $7.5 trillion from $10.8 trillion, LPS said.  

"Since December 2008, prices have fallen more slowly, interrupted by brief seasonal intervals of rising prices," LPS said. During this period, the national average home price is down about $26,000 from $226,000.

kpanchuk@housingwire.com