The price of U.S. homes continued to drop by record-setting amounts in March, but some hard-hit cities showed signs of stabilization, according to a monthly housing report released Tuesday.
Still, the overall tone of the report, published by Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Index -- a closely watched measure of 20 major cities -- was negative.
"We see no evidence that that a recovery in home prices has begun," said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's, in a statement.
From the peak in the second quarter of 2006, average home prices are down by 32 percent.
In the first quarter of 2009, prices in the 20 major cities fell by 18.7 percent over the first quarter of 2008. That's the largest quarterly drop in the index's 21-year history.
Seventeen metro areas recorded a monthly decline in March, with Minneapolis, Detroit and New York posting record monthly declines.
But on a positive note, nine of metro areas are reporting a relative
improvement in year-over-year returns, and saw an improvement in their monthly returns compared to February.
Also, for the second consecutive month, the 20-city composite did not post a record annual decline.
Nonetheless, the declines mean that, as of March of 2009, average home prices in the United States were at 2002 levels.
The city posting the largest monthly decline was Minneapolis, where prices fell by 6.1 percent in March -- the largest monthly plummet posted by any city in the history of the index. Across the country, the average monthly decline in March was 2.2 percent.
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