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South Florida No. 1 in home prices slide

Miami Herald - 2/26/2008 12:00:00 AM
by Associated Press

South Florida home prices lost 17.5 percent in the final quarter of 2007, the worst performance in the nation, Standard & Poor's said Tuesday.

U.S. home prices lost 8.9 percent in the final quarter of 2007, marking a full year of declining values and the steepest drop in the 20-year history of its housing index.

''We reached a somber year-end for the housing market in 2007,'' said one of the index's creators, Robert Shiller.

The Miami market, which includes Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, continues to lead the weakest markets, posting a 17.5 percent annual decline. Las Vegas and Phoenix followed with a 15.3 percent drop each. Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Detroit and Washington, D.C., all recorded double-digit annual declines.

The quarterly index tracks prices of existing-family homes nationwide compared with a year earlier.

The Case-Shiller index examines price changes of the same house over time. For each house that has sold twice, a computer model assigns a weight based on several factors -- for example, how long between sales and whether the home appears to have been remodeled. It does not include condos.

Critics, however, say computer models can't account for every variable that affects individual home prices or the overall real estate market.

Only three metro areas -- Charlotte, N.C.; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle -- showed year-over-year increases in prices, but Seattle's growth was up a slim 0.5 percent.