Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price indices for the month of January show prices falling in most major metro areas.
The latest report shows annual price declines of 3.9% and 3.8%, respectively, for the 10- and 20-city composite indexes in the month of January.
Both composites combined fell 0.8% in January, with 16 of the 19 metropolitan statistical areas surveyed experiencing price drops over the prior month. Analysts with Econoday said "the unadjusted monthly decline of 0.8 percent is the best reading since September with the year-on-year rate, where adjustments play a much less significant role than on month-to-month rates, at minus 3.8 percent rate for the same rate as the unadjusted data."
The only cities with price increases for the month included Miami, Phoenix and Washington D.C.
S&P says eight metro areas and both composite indexes posted new lows in January on the index chart.
Still, the 10- and 20-city composites marginally improved their annual return rates over the month of December. The Dallas, Denver, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa and Washington D.C. metros saw their annual rates improve over the month of December while price returns fell in nine other areas.
"Despite some positive economic signs, home prices continued to drop. The 10- and 20- city composites and eight cities – Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Las Vegas, New York, Portland, Seattle and Tampa – made new lows," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P indices. "Detroit and Phoenix, two cities that have suffered massive price declines, plus Denver, saw increasing prices versus January 2011. The 10-city composite was down 3.9% and the 20-city was down 3.8% compared to January 2011."
Atlanta continues to suffer severe price drops with its index score down 2.1% from the previous month and 19.7% over the past six months.
"It also posted the worst annual return, down 14.8%. Seven of the cities were down by 1.0% or more over the month," S&P said. "With the new lows, both composites are now 34.4% off their relative 2006 peaks."
Rick Sharga, executive vice president of Carrington Mortgage Holdings, summed up the report saying it "suggests that buying activity is focused on the low end of the market, especially distressed assets, which continue to drag down home prices. With several million more properties in various stages of delinquency and foreclosure, pricing will continue to suffer while this inventory is gradually absorbed."