Data released by Standard & Poor’s for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Prices Indices showed that real estate prices for single-family homes continued to drop in February with 10 of the 20 metro areas showing record rates of annual decline, and 15 reporting declines of more than 10 percent compared to February 2008.

“While the declines in residential real estate continued into February, we witnessed some deceleration in the rate of decline in some of the markets,” says David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor’s. “All 20 metro areas recorded a monthly decline in February, but 16 of the 20 metro areas saw an improvement in their monthly returns compared to January. Nine of the 20 metro areas showed improvement in their annual returns compared to their returns in January. Furthermore, this is the first month since October 2007 where the 10- and 20-City Composites did not post a record annual decline. We will certainly need a few more months of data before we can determine if home prices are finally turning around.”

All 20 metro areas reported negative monthly and annual rates of change in average home prices in February. In January’s report, seven metro areas and the 20-City Composite posted record monthly declines. In February, Cleveland was the only metro area having a record monthly decline, returning -5.0 percent.

In terms of annual declines, the three worst performing cities continue to be from the Sunbelt, each reporting negative returns in excess of 30 percent. Phoenix was down 35.2 percent, Las Vegas declined 31.7 percent and San Francisco fell 31.0 percent. Dallas, Denver and Boston faired the best in terms of annual declines down 4.5 percent, 5.7 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively.

Dallas also had the distinction of being the best performer for the month, returning -0.3 percent.

Looking at the data from peak-thru-February 2009, Dallas has suffered the least, down 11.1 percent from its peak in June 2007; while Phoenix is down 50.8 percent from its peak in June of 2006. According to the announcement, the rates of decline from the respective peak of each market are evidence of how much each market has given back from the gains earned in the past 10-15 years. All of the 20 metro areas are in double digit declines from their peaks, with ten of the cities posting declines of greater than 30 percent and seven of those-Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, San Francisco and San Diego-in excess of 40 percent.

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