Home prices drop in most big cities

NEW YORK – Home prices plunged by record levels in January from a year ago, with almost no major cities immune from the spiraling market. Analysts worried that even the usually reliable spring selling season would fall flat.

The closely watched Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 cities fell more than 11 percent in January from a year earlier, the biggest drop in its two-decade history.

Prices were down about 20 percent in Las Vegas and Miami, both paying the price for rampant speculation and too much new construction during the housing boom.

Fourteen other cities posted record declines in the Tuesday report.

The only bright spot was a 1.8 percent increase in Charlotte, N.C., where real estate agents say prices rose more modestly during the boom years and the regional economy is relatively strong.

Mounting foreclosures, falling consumer confidence and sellers slashing their asking prices are taking an increasing toll on the nation’s housing market.

“It’s just a spiral that will end up taking this year to get out of,” said Pava Leyrer, president of Heritage National Mortgage in Detroit, adding that the market there is not expected to improve until the spring of 2009.


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