US home prices down 19.1 percent

Minneapolis posts record 6.1 percent monthly decline, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index.

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

The plunge in housing prices, which dragged the US economy into crisis, shows few signs of easing.

The average price of a home in the first quarter of 2009 declined a record 19.1 percent compared with a year earlier, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller national home price index released Tuesday. In the month of March, the index's 20-city average fell a seasonally adjusted 2.2 percent – the third-largest monthly decline since housing prices began to fall in 2007.

"We see no evidence that a recovery in home prices has begun," Standard & Poor's said in its release.

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The situation was more varied for individual cities. From February to March, home prices in metropolitan Minneapolis fell 6.1 percent, the largest monthly decline of any city in the 20 years that the index has tracked. Metro Detroit and New York also saw their biggest monthly declines on record: 4.9 and 2.5 percent, respectively.

But declines were so small in metro Charlotte, N.C., and Denver that prices were essentially flat from February. Dallas was down only 0.3 percent in the same period. These are signs that, in some cities at least, recession has taken less of a toll on housing.

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