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U.S. home prices continue to drop in February

There was more bleak housing news as U.S. home prices continued to fall in February, according to a widely followed index released Tuesday.

Spotting good news these days requires viewing the market not as a glass three-quarters empty but as a vessel one-quarter full. Thus the producers of the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index reported Tuesday that “for the first time in 16 months, the annual decline did not set a new record.”

In the 20 metropolitan areas covered by the index, prices were down 18.6% in February from the same month a year earlier. The 20-city index is now at a level last seen in 2002.

In the Los Angeles area, which includes Orange County, the February index showed a 24% drop from a year earlier. The Los Angeles/Orange County index was down 40% from its 2006 peak.

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The sharpest February declines from the same month last year were in Phoenix (35.2%), Las Vegas (31.7%) and San Francisco (31%).

The Case-Shiller index compares the sale prices of homes against their previous sales and corrects for factors that would alter a home’s value, such as remodeling.

Rather than state the value with a dollar figure, an index number is used, with 100 representing prices in January 2000. The February Los Angeles/Orange County index number was 163.

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peter.hong@latimes.com


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