U.S. Home Prices Drop for Sixth Straight Month in February

Foreclosure for saleBy CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Home prices dropped in February in most major U.S. cities for a sixth straight month, a sign that modest sales gains haven't been enough to boost prices.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home-price index shows that prices dropped in February from January in 16 of the 20 cities it tracks.

The steepest declines were in Atlanta, Chicago and Cleveland. Prices rose in Phoenix, San Diego and Miami. They were unchanged in Dallas.

The declines partly reflect typical offseason sales. The month-to-month prices aren't adjusted for seasonal factors.

Still, prices fell in 15 of the 20 cities in February compared with the same month in 2011. That indicates that the housing market remains far from healthy despite the best winter for sales in five years.

The steady price declines have brought the nationwide index to its late 2002 level. Home prices have fallen 35% since the housing bust. Prices in nine cities fell to their lowest levels since the housing bust. The average price in Atlanta fell 17.3% in February compared with a year earlier. That's the biggest annual drop in the history of the index for any city.

Still, there were some positive signs in the report: Phoenix, one of the cities hit hardest by the housing bust, has seen five straight monthly gains. And most cities are reporting smaller annual declines than in previous months. The S&P/Case-Shiller monthly index covers half of all U.S. homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The February figures are the latest available.

Stan Humphries, chief economist for housing website Zillow.com, attributed the declines in part to heavy sales of foreclosed homes, which are usually sold at super-low prices. Foreclosures made up about one-fifth of February's sales.

"We think home sales will continue to trend upward, which ultimately will result in a slower rate of home value depreciation," Humphries said. "But any housing recovery will be dependent on job growth."

Job growth has slowed but is still occurring at faster pace than last year. Employers added an average of 212,000 jobs a month from January through March. That helped push down the unemployment rate to 8.2% from 9.1% last August.

Some recent reports suggest that the housing market is slowly improving.

January and February made up the best winter for sales of previously occupied homes in five years, when the housing crisis began. The 4.63 million annual sales pace in January was the highest since May 2010, the last month that buyers could qualify for a federal home-buying tax credit.

Builders are laying plans to construct more homes in 2012 than at any other point in past 3½ years. More jobs and a better outlook among buyers could also make 2012 the first year since 2008 that construction adds to the U.S. economy.

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Many seniors today face retirement with less savings and lower home equity value than they expected. Their dreams of selling their home and moving to a more suitable climate or lifestyle may now seem difficult to obtain if not impossible given decreasing home values and challenging economic conditions.


November 26 2013 at 6:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Once again lets blame Bush almost 4 years ago...Nobama must go and the rest of his gangsters...NOBAMA GONE 2012.....

April 24 2012 at 5:01 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

The Bush with a GOP house and senate economical debacle is still with us.

April 24 2012 at 4:34 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Somey's comment

No it is not, but nice try dear. This all falls on the Obama administration. Thanks for bring the subject up so I could straighten you out doll. Sorry to see that you are so confused dearest.

April 24 2012 at 6:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I hope Obama never leaves office!!

With double didgit unemployment I have cut all my employees salaries by 30% minimum. As soon as they passed Obamacare I cancelled my companies "Cadillac" health coverage (I used to carry to attract good people, now not necessary under Obama) and instantly started svaing a bundel (told them they could go to the government run DMV health clinics, LOL). And now real estate keeps getting cheaper and cheaper. At this rate I will get the big house at the beach much sooner then I even could if an idiot Republican was in office.

Go Give-me-Crats!!

April 24 2012 at 4:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Arthur Landsford

Barry is getting his wish. Whites own most of the houses. Barry thinks home ownership is another form of racist policies. He is doing all he can to take down housing and the equity that mostly whites have in housing. The less whites have, the less advantage they have over Barry's downtrodden minorities. No larger homes, second homes, investments, college education funds on and on. All unfair white advantages. Doesn't matter if Barry takes down some minorities with his plan..The end of wiping out one form of white wealth is his goal.

April 24 2012 at 2:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Wait a minute, liberals keep telling us that our economy has improves in the last 24 month because of Obama.
Who is telling the truth??

April 24 2012 at 2:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Meadhh's comment

Obamas a fiasco

April 24 2012 at 2:19 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Still waiting for the summer of recovery that Obama talked about. I guess that will come in 2013 when he's no longer in the White House

April 24 2012 at 2:18 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Anne Taber Katz

Didn't I just hear on the news that home prices were rising? Thankfully, my most recent property assessment showed an increase in the value of my investment. I was devastated when the price of my condominium fell so drastically, but rationalized that my property taxes would become lower. No such luck. They were simply raised to offset the difference.

April 24 2012 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How can they think to build more houses when the prices are falling for the rest of the houses they can't sell anyway?? That is so stupied I can't belive they would even think it ...

April 24 2012 at 1:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

More taxes, bigger government. That will get us out of this.

April 24 2012 at 12:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply