Home prices in December fell to a level not seen since September 2002, as depreciations in larger metros overshadowed gains in smaller markets. 

December was the sixth consecutive month in which prices fell, according to real estate analytics firm Lender Processing Services (LPS). Of the 411 metropolitan statistical areas that LPS tracks, 402 showed average home price depreciation from the previous month.

From June 2007 through December 2008 — the period of the quickest fall since prices peaked in June 2006 — national home prices declined at an average annual rate of 13.8%. Since December 2008, prices decreased at an annual rate of 4.4%.

"The MSAs that have seen price increases since December 2008 are generally relatively small — Boston and Pittsburgh are exceptions," said Raj Dosaj, vice president of LPS Applied Analytics.

Metropolitan areas that saw wider increases in home prices since December 2008, including Springfield, Mass., Albany, N.Y., Brownsville, Texas, and Hot Springs, Ark.

States inhabiting the highest percentage of areas experiencing appreciation are in the West North Central Census Division — Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska — and in the Middle Atlantic states of New York and Pennsylvania, LPS said.

Average monthly changes were provided by LPS:

And average home prices since the June 2006 market peak at key points:

The findings by LPS for December echo those of CoreLogic (CLGX), which recently reported home prices in January declined for the sixth consecutive month in a row. The company said home prices are "down to nearly the same levels as 10 years ago."


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