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Home Prices Dropping Across Nation


Housing market continues its weakness across America's top 20 cities, according to monthly index.

— The index found home prices fell in almost all of the nation's top 20 housing markets, the exception being Detroit. The national composite index showed prices fell 3.3 percent in February when compared to the same month a year ago. San Diego home values slipped nearly 2 percent from a year ago. The index also found that more people are renting homes.

"Maybe this was under pressure of the recession, but maybe some people are beginning to wonder whether home ownership is all it is cracked up to be," said David Blitzer of Standard & Poor's, the agency that puts together the Case Shiller index. "And if that shifts, it will be a long time before housing sees a lot of strength."

Blitzer says home values set low marks in many markets around the country in February, but San Diego home values are still more than 7 percent above the bottom of the market set in 2009 The survey has reasons to be both pessimistic and optimistic about the future of the housing market. Values are down, but home prices in San Diego remain above the bottom of the market two years ago.

"Prices are about 7.33 percent higher than they were in summer of '09," said Blittzer. "Los Angeles prices are almost 6 percent above where they were in May of '09 when they hit a bottom."

The London Group in San Diego tracks the local real-estate market. Economist Gary London said the distressed housing inventory may be shrinking. That may open the door to a market rebound.

"We're still seeing some bank inventory," said London. "And the last vestiges of bankruptcy sort of worked themselves through the market and the market is still going through a clearing phase which is about ending at this point."

Distressed sales still account for about a third of all home sales in San Diego County. That's down significantly from two years ago.

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