U.S. home prices fell again in January but at a slower pace, according to Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home-price indexes.
Despite the slower pace, the consistent drop in home values has meant that nearly a decade of price gains in the U.S. housing market have been wiped out. As of January 2012, average home prices across the country are back to early 2003 levels.
According to the national composite index, home values in 20 cities fell 3.8 percent in January from a year earlier, after decreasing 4.1 percent in December.
In what may be a good sign and a leading indicator, Detroit and Phoenix posted an increase in prices compared with a year ago. Detroit and Phoenix were among the hardest hit by prices declines in the past and a recovery there may bode well for housing markets in other cities.
Home prices are now down 34 percent from their peak in the second quarter of 2006, when the housing bubble began to burst. Atlanta home prices in particular have dropped to new lows.
Of the 20 major U.S. metropolitan markets, 16 reported prices were lower in January than during December. Miami, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., were the only areas to report growth month-to-month.