In a sign the U.S. housing market is still in troubled waters despite recent gains over the summer, prices in 17 of 20 major housing markets again dropped in the last quarter.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday showed prices dropped in September from August in 17 of the 20 cities tracked. That was the first decline after five straight months in which at least half the cities in the survey showed monthly gains.
Housing prices have lost on average 34% since the housing crisis began in late 2007, but in some markets such as Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada, prices have plummeted as much as 60% in some urban areas.
David M. Blitzer, chairman of S&P's index committee, said that while the steep price declines seen between 2007 and 2009 appear to be over, home prices are down from the same time last year and do not show signs of easing. "Any chance for a sustained recovery will probably need a stronger economy," Blitzer said.
Atlanta, San Francisco and Tampa posted the biggest monthly price declines. Prices in Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix fell to their lowest points since the housing crisis began four years ago. Blitzer called the new lows in those three cities a "bit disturbing."
Holding back the housing market are several factors, including sustained high unemployment, lack of confidence in the housing market to stop falling, and credit being harder to come by than prior to 2007.