Home prices sink at record clip

Associated Press

In a bad omen for sellers and lenders this spring home selling season, the erosion of house values is accelerating and foreclosure filings are doubling, new data showed Tuesday.

A closely watched index of home prices in 20 cities fell almost 13 percent in February from a year earlier, a record for the seven-year-old S&P’s/Case-Shiller Home Price index. The report follows news that foreclosure filings between January and March also hit a new high, and comes a day after the government said the number of vacant homes on the market also hit a record.

"Month-to-month, it gets consistently worse," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P, noting that February also marked the sixth straight month that all 20 cities experienced declines. "The slope is one direction. There is no sign of a bottom."

He said 17 of the metro areas the index tracks reported record annual declines, led again by Miami and Las Vegas.


Charlotte, N.C., was the only city to post an annual gain of 1.5 percent, but Blitzer noted that Charlotte’s positive returns continue to diminish with each month and it was the last city in the index to reach its peak.

Nationwide, one in every 194 households received a foreclosure filing during the quarter, more than double the same period last year.

In southeast Minnesota counties, foreclosure increases weren’t as bad. In Olmsted County, based on first quarter numbers, the foreclosure rate was projected to increase only 1 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to Foreclosures in Minnesota, a report from the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund. Other projected increases include 10 percent in Dodge County, 44 percent in Goodhue County and minus 13 percent in Mower County.

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