Sunday, May 4, 2008

Home prices keep sinking

The following article appeared on page 3C in the Wednesday April 30, 2008 St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Home prices keep sinking
Foreclosure filings double, hit record in first quarter

By J.W. Elphinstone
Associated Press

NEW YORK - In a bad omen for sellers and lenders this spring home-selling season, the erosion of house values is accelerating and foreclosure filings are doubling, new data showed Tuesday.

A closely watched index of home prices in 20 cities fell almost 13 percent in February from a year earlier, a record for the seven-year old S&P's/Case-Shiller Home Price index. The report follows news that foreclosure filings between January and March also hit a new high, and comes a day after the government said the number of vacant homes on the market also hit a record.

"Month-to-month, it gets consistently worse," said the index committee at S&P, noting February also marked the sixth-straight month all 20 cities experienced declines. "The slope is one direction. There is no sign of a bottom."

He said 17 of the metro areas the index tracks reported record annual declines, led again by Miami and Las Vegas.

Charlotte, N.C., was the only city to post an annual gain - 1.5 percent - but Blitzer noted Charlotte's positive returns continue to diminish with each month and it was the last city in the index to reach its peak.

Nevada posted the country's worst foreclosure rate in the first quarter, RealtyTrac Inc. said Tuesday, with one in every 54 households receiving a foreclosure-related notice.

Nationwide, one in every 194 households received a foreclosure filing during the quarter, more than double the same period last year.

The most recent quarter marked the seventh consecutive quarter of rising foreclosure activity.

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