S&P/Case Shiller Index for February: -12.7%
* Prices fell 2.7% between January and February in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas. Prices were off 12.7% from a year earlier. That was worse than the 10.7% decline reported in January and the biggest decline so far for the monthly index, which was first published in 2001.
* The 10-city index has a longer history. It declined 13.6% year-over-year. That was worse than the 11.4% drop in January and the worst since S&P started tracking in the late 1980s.
* Prices fell from year-ago levels in 19 out of 20 cities. The biggest declines were found in Las Vegas (-22.8%), Miami (-21.7%), Phoenix (-20.8%), and Southern California (-19.4% in L.A. and -19.2% in San Diego). The only metropolitan area showing a gain was Charlotte (+1.5%).
Weary home sellers won't find much comfort in the latest home price numbers. We're seeing significant year-over-year price declines in many of the metropolitan areas that saw the most speculative buying during the boom. Meanwhile, even formerly strong markets like Seattle, New York, and Charlotte are starting to deteriorate.
I suspect we'll see further home price weakness in 2008 and early 2009 for many markets. Ultimately, that will prove to be "good" news because it will prompt bargain hunters to step off the sidelines, and help shrink the glut of inventory for sale.