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Home Prices Plummet to Lowest Levels Since 2002

The ""Case Shiller Home Price Indexes"":http://www.standardandpoors.com/indices/sp-case-shiller-home-price-indices/en/us/?indexId=spusa-cashpidff--p-us fell for the seventh straight month in March. The drop in the broader 20-city index was barely noticeable ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô down to 134.10 from 134.14 in February ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô while the 10-city index fell to 146.61 from 146.74.

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Year-over-year, the 10-city index was down 2.8 percent and the 20-city index off 2.6 percent, improving from February.

Economists had expected the 20-city index to show a 2.7 percent year-over-year decline.

Separately, the national Case Shiller Index, reported quarterly, was down 2.0 percent in the first quarter and down 1.9 percent from the first quarter of 2011, Standard & Poor's, which compiles and releases the indexes, reported.

All three composites posted the lowest levels since mid-2006 when the housing crises began.

The quarterly national index fell to its lowest level since 2Q 2002 with its second

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consecutive quarterly decline. It was down year-over-year for the seventh straight quarter, off 35.1 percent since its 2Q 2006 peak.

The month-over-month and year-over-year gains were weaker than the improvement in the median price for an existing single-family home as reported last week by the National Association of Realtors. According to the NAR, the median price of an existing single family home improved 5.9 percent in March and 2.1 percent from March 2011 to March 2012.

The index showed a month-over-month decline in seven of the 20 cities surveyed, with prices in Las Vegas ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a perennial laggard ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô essentially unchanged from February to March. The cities in which home prices declined were Detroit (4.4 percent), Chicago (2.5 percent), Atlanta (0.9 percent), Minneapolis (0.9 percent), New York (0.9 percent), Portland (0.5 percent) and Boston (0.2 percent).

Prices in Phoenix showed the strongest month-over-month gain (2.2 percent), followed by Seattle (1.7 percent), Dallas (1.6 percent), Denver (1.5 percent), Tampa (1.3 percent) and Washington DC (1.0 percent). Month-over-month gains in the other cities which saw price increases were less than 1.0 percent.

Only seven of the 20 cities showed year-over-year price gains led by Phoenix, 6.1 percent, Minneapolis (3.3 percent), Denver (2.6 percent) Miami (2.5 percent), Detroit (2.3 percent), Dallas (1.5 percent) and Charlotte (0.4 percent). That the year-year gains were not concentrated in any single region of the country hints at the seed of a national housing recovery.

Even with the slower decline in March, the 10-city price index is down 50.4 percent from its June 2006 peak and the 20-city index is down 49.8 percent from its July 2006 high point.

About Author: Mark Lieberman

Mark Lieberman is the former Senior Economist at Fox Business Network. He is now Managing Director and Senior Economist at Economics Analytics Research. He can be heard each Friday on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM Radio 124.
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