Although there have been some recent encouraging signs that the housing industry is getting back on its feet, home prices are still falling in virtually all the nation's big metro areas, according to data released Tuesday.
The latest S&P Case-Shiller home price index shows home prices fell in 19 of the nation's 20 biggest cities in December, compared with a year earlier. Only Detroit -- one of the cities hardest hit by the economic downturn -- bucked the trend, with prices up a scant 0.5 percent from December 2010.
And that was little reason for cheering. Home prices fell 3.8 percent in Detroit from November to December -- the biggest one-month drop of any city in the index. Detroit home prices also have suffered the biggest drop of any city since January 2000, according to the index.
"In terms of prices, the housing market ended 2011 on a very disappointing note," said David Blitzer, chairman of the Standard and Poor's index committee. "While we thought we saw some signs of stabilization in the middle of 2011, it appears that neither the economy nor consumer confidence was strong enough to move the market in a positive direction as the year ended."
Here are the cities where prices have fallen the farthest over the past year, based on the index:
- Atlanta, -12.8%
- Las Vegas, -8.8%
- Chicago, -6.5%
- Seattle, -5.6%
- San Francisco, -5.4%
- San Diego, -5.4%
The index also measures each metro area compared with price levels in January 2000. On that basis, Detroit, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Cleveland have been hardest hit. All have prices that are typically below where they were 12 years ago.
Washington, D.C., New York and and Los Angeles are the metro areas where home prices have had the best performance over the past 12 years. In all three cases prices are up at least 60 percent from the index year.
"After a prior three years of accelerated decline, the past two years has been a story of a housing market that is bottoming out but has not yet stabilized," Blitzer said in the release.
The S&P Case Shiller report is a widely respected measure of metropolitan home prices based on "matched price pairs" of individual homes in each metro area.
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