Home prices in 20 U.S. cities fell 19 percent in January from a year earlier, the fastest drop on record, as demand plummeted and foreclosures rose.
The S&P/Case-Shiller index’s decrease was more than forecast and compares with an 18.6 percent decrease in December. The gauge has fallen every month since January 2007, and year- over-year records began in 2001.
A glut of unsold properties may keep prices low, shrinking household wealth and damping spending. Still, sales of new and previously owned homes rose in February, indicating the housing slump, now in its fourth year, may ease as policy efforts to unclog credit and aid borrowers begin to take hold.
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“At this point it doesn’t look great for the near term,” Robert Shiller, chief economist at MacroMarkets LLC and a co- creator of the home price index, said today in a Bloomberg Radio interview. Still, he said, prices “can’t keep declining at this rate forever.”
The home price index was projected to decline 18.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the median forecast of 29 economists in a Bloomberg News survey, after an originally reported drop of 18.5 percent in December. Estimates ranged from declines of 17.2 percent to 19 percent.
From a month earlier, home prices fell 2.8 percent in January, after a 2.6 percent drop in December, the report showed. The figures aren’t adjusted for seasonal effects, so economists prefer to focus on year-over-year changes instead of month-to-month.