NEW YORK – U.S. home prices fell in October for the 10th consecutive month, posting their largest monthly drop since early 1991, a widely watched index showed on Wednesday.
The record 6.7 percent drop in the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index also marked the 23rd consecutive month prices either grew more slowly or declined.
"No matter how you look at these data, it is obvious that the current state of the single-family housing market remains grim," said Robert Shiller, who helped create the index, in a statement.
The previous record decline was 6.3 percent, recorded in April 1991. The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index tracks prices of existing single-family homes in 10 metropolitan areas compared to a year earlier. The index is considered a strong measure of home prices because it examines price changes of the same property over time, instead of calculating a median price of homes sold during the month.
The broader Case-Shiller index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 6.1 percent. Among the 20 metropolitan areas used in the broader index, 11 posted record monthly declines and all 20 declined in October compared to September.
Miami posted the largest decline among those 20 markets. Home prices in the Miami metropolitan area fell 12.4 percent in October compared to the same month last year, surpassing Tampa, Fla. as the worst-performing city. Tampa posted a year-over-year loss of 11.8 percent.
Besides those two cities, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego also posted double-digit year-over-year declines.
Atlanta and Dallas, which had previously posted price appreciation, fell in October. Prices fell 0.7 percent in Atlanta and 0.1 percent in Dallas compared to a year earlier.
Only three areas — Charlotte, N.C., Portland, Ore. and Seattle — posted year-over-year home price appreciation in October. Charlotte posted the largest gains at 4.3 percent.
Bob Morgan, president of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, said the area's economy continues to create jobs at record levels. While the numbers are preliminary, more than 14,000 jobs were created in the Charlotte area in 2007, he said, compared with more than 12,000 jobs in 2006.
The job growth is coming from a "pretty healthy" variety of sectors, including the financial industry, Morgan said. Charlotte is home to two of the nation's four largest banks, Bank of America Corp. and Wachovia Corp.
Carole Brake, the sales manager at Bissell Hayes Realtors SouthPark Office in Charlotte, said prices are still up despite an increase in inventory.
"Sellers are not in a mode to reduce their prices. They want a fair market price for their home," Brake said.