In a signal that residential mortgage market woes have extended into commercial real estate, Moody's Investors Service said Tuesday that a proprietary commercial real estate price index used by the agency registered a second consecutive monthly decline, and the third in the past four months. Moody's/REAL Commercial Property Price Indices fell by 1.5 percent in December -- the fourth-largest monthly drop in the 84-month history covered by the price index. "The last few months of the index have represented a bit of a plateau, but one with more 'down months' than 'up months,'" said senior vice president Sally Gordon, coauthor of the report. "The asymmetry of the number of months when prices increased or decreased is striking and clearly indicative of where we are in the real estate cycle--the beginnings of a downturn after a long run-up in prices." One surprise in December, according to Moody's, was that the volume of the repeat sales transactions remained robust during the month -- usually a sign of market strength. In December, the Moody's/REAL CPPI captured 352 transactions totaling $7.1 billion. "Although December is often a more active month for transactions as some borrowers and/or lenders are eager to close before the year-end for one or another financial reason, the jump in volume in December might turn out to be atypical before a softer pace sets in," said Gordon. For more information, visit