Data released Tuesday morning by Standard & Poor’s show that the S&P/Case-Shiller national home price index declined by 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2011, after having fallen 3.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.
The national reading hit a new recession low with the first quarter’s data and posted an annual decline of 5.1 percent versus the first quarter of 2010. Nationally, home prices are back to their mid-2002 levels.
“This month’s report is marked by the confirmation of a double-dip in home prices across much of the nation,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Indices. “The national index, the 20-city composite and 12 MSAs [metropolitan statistical areas] all hit new lows with data reported through March 2011.”
Blitzer continued, “Home prices continue on their downward spiral with no relief in sight. Since December 2010, we have found an increasing number of markets posting new lows.”
According to S&P’s latest report, home prices in 12 cities covered by the index fell to their lowest levels of the current housing cycle: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Portland, and Tampa.
Minneapolis posted a 10.0 percent annual drop, the first market to be back in the region of double-digit declines since March 2010 when Las Vegas was down 12.0 percent on an annual basis.
Washington D.C. was the only MSA displaying positive trends with an annual growth rate of 4.3 percent and a 1.1 percent increase from its February level.
Seattle was up a modest 0.1 percent between February and March, but still down 7.5 percent versus March 2010, although not yet in double-dip territory.
Seattle and D.C. were the only two metros of the 20 included in the index to record month-over-month gains in March. With an index value of 138.16 in March, the 20-city composite fell below its earlier reported April 2009 low of 139.26.
The 20-city composite posted an annual rate of decline of 3.6 percent in March, while the 10-city composite was down 2.9 percent from a year earlier.
Eleven cities and both composites have posted at least eight consecutive months of negative month-over-month returns.
“The rebound in prices seen in 2009 and 2010 was largely due to the first-time homebuyers tax credit,” Blitzer said. “Excluding the results of that policy, there has been no recovery or even stabilization in home prices during or after the recent recession.”
High levels of foreclosures and sales of bank-owned homes are putting downward pressure on home prices across the country, and with the pipeline of delinquent loans still bloated, property values are widely projected to continue to fall throughout the remainder of this year.
The latest readings from S&P were largely in line with market expectations. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News were forecasting an annual drop in the 20-city composite of 3.4 percent compared to the 3.6 percent decline officially reported.