Home Prices Fell 1.3% in November

Home prices declined 1.3 percent in November from the previous month, according to an index of property values, while home prices adjusted for seasonal variations fell 0.7 percent, matching the drop in October.

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The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities declined 3.7 percent from November 2010 after decreasing 3.4 percent in the twelve months ended in October.

Distressed properties have been flooding the market, hampering improvement by pushing down prices. Another wave of foreclosures in 2012 threatens to keep pressure on prices and delay the recovery.

Nineteen of the 20 cities measured by S&P/Case-Shiller showed declines in November, while Phoenix posted a 0.6 percent gain from October.

Eighteen of the 20 cities showed a year-over-year decline, led by an 11.8 percent slump in Atlanta and a 9.1 percent drop in Las Vegas. Detroit showed the biggest increase, with prices rising 3.8 percent in the year ended in November. Prices in Washington, D.C., climbed 0.5 percent.

“Despite continued low interest rates and better real GDP growth in the fourth quarter, home prices continue to fall,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee. “The trend is down and there are few, if any, signs in the numbers that a turning point is close at hand.”

Historically low mortgages have failed to have their intended effect, and now a rebound in inventory of unsold homes may hinder progress. Banks are expected to seize over 1 million U.S. homes this year after legal scrutiny of foreclosure practices slowed actions against delinquent property owners in 2011.

Still, builders have become more optimistic about the housing market. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo sentiment index rose this month to the highest level since June 2007.

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