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U.S. home prices drop 11.4% in year, index finds

Times Staff Writer

Home prices across the nation continued to fall at a record pace in January, with Southern California showing some of the steepest declines, according to a major indicator released Tuesday.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index showed an 11.4% drop in January from a year earlier, the largest annual plunge since the index was started in 1987.

Las Vegas and Miami had the steepest declines, posting 19.3% year-over-year decreases. But not far behind -- with annual declines near 17% -- were San Diego and the Los Angeles area, which includes Orange County. The Case-Shiller Los Angeles index is now 18% below its 2006 peak.

Record declines occurred in 16 of the 20 metropolitan areas included in the index. Only the Charlotte, N.C., metropolitan area showed a year-over-year increase -- 1.8%.

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The national price plummet reported by Case-Shiller for January followed another report of a record-breaking decrease Monday by the National Assn. of Realtors. But those figures, which captured February sales, showed a gain in the number of existing detached houses sold compared to January.

The monthly bump in sales surprised some analysts, but there is wide agreement that several months of improvement must be seen to indicate a housing market recovery.

The California Assn. of Realtors reported a February sales increase of nearly 10% statewide from January. But the February sales total was down a record 29% compared to February 2007. The median price of an existing California home fell 26% in February from a year earlier.

The Case-Shiller data suggest that the national housing market remains in decline, said David M. Blitzer of Standard & Poor’s. “Unfortunately, it does not look like early 2008 is marking any turnaround.”

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The index compares the latest sales of detached houses to previous sales, and accounts for factors such as remodeling that might affect a house’s sale price over time. It excludes foreclosures. From those data, an index score is created to show price changes.

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peter.hong@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Further down

Big cities with home-price declines greater than 10% in January compared with a year earlier, and one that gained

City: Change from year ago

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Las Vegas -19.3%

Miami: -19.3

Phoenix: -18.2

San Diego: -16.7

Los Angeles: -16.5

Detroit: -15.1

Tampa, Fla.: -15.0

San Francisco: -13.2

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Washington: -10.9

Minneapolis: -10.0

Charlotte, N.C.: +1.8

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Source: Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller national home price index

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Los Angeles Times


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