Home prices continue to fall, report finds

Home prices continued to fall in November, according to the latest Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

Home prices continued to fall in November, according to the latest Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

The report indicated that home prices fell by 3.7 percent in November from a year earlier, with declines in 19 of the 20 largest metro areas examined for the second consecutive month. Meanwhile, the 10- and 20-city composite indices fell 3.6 and 3.7 percent lower, respectively, when compared to November 2010.

"Annual rates were little better as 18 cities and both composites were negative," said Index Committee chairman David M. Blitzer. "The trend is down and there are few, if any, signs in the numbers that a turning point is close at hand."

Additionally, the report noted that overall home prices are roughly one-third lower then they were at the housing market's peak in 2006 and are now close to home prices recorded in mid-2003.    

"Despite continued low interest rates and better real GDP growth in  the fourth quarter, home prices continue to fall," said Blitzer. "Weakness was seen as 19 of 20 cities saw average home prices decline in November over October."

On a more local level, real estate records indicated that the only housing markets to see home price gains during November were Detroit and Washington, D.C., where prices appreciated on an annual basis by 3.8 and 0.5 percent, respectively. However, on a monthly basis, both cities posted notable declines as prices in Detroit fell by 2.4 percent and Washington, D.C., saw prices edge 1.1 percent lower from October.  

Month-to-month, Phoenix was the only metro area where home prices increased, as they rose 0.6 percent from October.

Meanwhile, in contrast Atlanta home prices dropped sharply in November from the previous year, while prices in Las Vegas, Seattle and Tampa also showed a significant depreciation of prices. 

"Atlanta continues to stand out in terms of recent relative weakness. It was down 2.5 percent over the month, after having fallen by 5.0 percent in October, 5.9 percent in September and 2.4 percent in August," the report stated. "It also posted the weakest annual return, down 11.8 percent." 

As home prices continue to get more affordable, average mortgage rates have remained steadily below 4 percent for eight consecutive weeks. According to the most recent Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.98 percent during the week ending January 26, making homeownership more attainable for prospective buyers.

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