Survey: Home prices down in most major US cities

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices fell in most major cities for the second straight month, further evidence that the housing recovery will be bumpy and weigh on the broader economy in 2012.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday showed prices dropped in October from September in 19 of the 20 cities tracked.

The decline reflects the typical fall slowdown after the peak buying season. Prices had risen modestly in April through August in at least half of the cities tracked.

Still, home prices have fallen roughly 32 percent nationwide since the housing bubble burst five years ago and are back to 2003 levels, according to the index.

Prices are even lower in hard-hit areas, such as Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Washington, New York, Los Angeles and San Diego have seen the smallest declines.

Home values remain depressed despite some modest progress in the housing market.

Residential construction is likely to add to U.S. economic growth in 2011, the first time that has happened in four years. That’s mainly because apartments are being built almost twice as fast as two years ago — reflecting a surge in renting and weaker home sales.

The Case-Shiller index measures prices for roughly half of all U.S. homes. Prices are compared with those in January 2000 and the index is based on a three-month moving average. The monthly data are not seasonally adjusted.

Atlanta, Detroit and Minneapolis posted the biggest monthly declines. Prices in Atlanta and Las Vegas fell to their lowest points since the housing crisis began. Prices rose in Phoenix after three straight monthly declines.

David M. Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee, said steep price drops in cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Minneapolis were particularly worrisome because their gains earlier this season were so strong.

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