Home prices fell at record pace in first quarter: S&P

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Prices of single-family homes plunged a record 14.1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, marking a pace five times faster than the last housing recession, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller national home price index reported on Tuesday.

The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 2.2 percent in March from February and plummeted a record 14.4 percent from March 2007.

Economists expected prices for the 20-city index to fall 2.0 percent on month and 14.0 percent from a year earlier, according to the median forecast in a Reuters survey.

“There are very few silver linings that one can see in the data,” David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee, said in a statement.

Falling home prices have become the scourge of the housing market that is seeing its worst downturn since the 1930s. Home values since last year have been dropping below balances owed on many mortgages, leaving borrowers with no equity and more likely to succumb to foreclosure.

The crisis in foreclosures, which pressure prices even lower, has spurred numerous plans by regulators and lawmakers that aim to keep borrowers in their homes by forgiving a portion of their loan’s principle.

Housing markets that grew the most during the housing boom, such as Las Vegas, Nevada and Miami, Florida, are leading the decline, S&P said.

S&P said its composite index of 10 metropolitan areas declined 2.4 percent in March, for a record 15.3 percent year-over-year drop.

(Reporting by Al Yoon, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Tue May 27, 2008 11:09am EDT

Source: Reuters

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