Home Prices in 20 U.S. Cities Decline 4% [View all]
By Shobhana Chandra - Feb 28, 2012 9:43 AM ET
Home prices in 20 U.S. cities dropped more than forecast in December to the lowest level since the housing crisis began in mid-2006, indicating foreclosures are hampering the industry’s recovery.
The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities fell 4 percent from a year earlier, after decreasing 3.9 percent in November, a report from the group showed today in New York. The median forecast of 31 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 3.7 percent decline.
Distressed properties returning to the market mean prices will stay depressed, prompting buyers to wait for cheaper bargains and impeding construction. While sales have begun to stabilize, a rebound in home values may take time, underscoring Federal Reserve policy makers’ concern that weakness in housing is blunting their efforts to spur the economic expansion.
“We’re still dealing with a lot of distressed properties and very low absolute levels of demand,” said Sean Incremona, a senior economist at 4Cast Inc. in New York, who accurately projected the 4 percent drop. “We’re not seeing any of the stabilization in housing activity filter through to prices.”