Nationwide housing prices are worse than previously reported, decline further

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The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index hit the housing industry with a double dose of bad news in a report released today. Not only did the report show a decline 0.6 percent in September compared to August in the 20 cities covered, but August’s index was downwardly revised to show a price decline in that month as well, despite a previously reported uptick.

The national index rose just 0.1 percent at the end of the third quarter of 2011 from the level recorded in the second quarter. Further, the index reported that annually prices declined by 3.9 percent, a slight improvement from the second quarter year-over-year decline of 5.8 percent.

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Seventeen of the 20 cities in the composite had price decreases, but Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix hit new lows. Home prices rose month-over-month in New York City, Portland and Washington DC.

“The markets are fairly thin, and the relative lack of closed transactions might be exacerbating the downside,” S&P Indices Chairman David Blitzer said, after listing the details of the report. “The relative good news is that 14 cities saw improvements in their annual rates of change, versus the six that weakened.”

In Miami, September home prices fell 0.7 percent percent from August and remained 4 percent below last year’s level. The city’s home price index is the sixth best among those measured for the index. — Adam Fusfeld