U.S. Home Values Continue to Decline

The housing market remains in the rut. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index through November showed home values fell 3.7 percent from the previous year. 

The 20-city home price index dropped slightly more than the 3.3 percent economists surveyed by  Bloomberg had expected, weighed down by foreclosed properties. 

According to the widely-cited measure index released on Tuesday morning, 18 of the 20 cities in the index showed a decline since the previous year. Atlanta had the largest drop at 11.8 percent slump followed by Las Vegas at 9.1 percent. Detroit had the biggest increase with a rise of 3.8 percent year-over-year for November. 

U.S. home prices fell more than expected in October as foreclosures continue to drag down the housing market. The 20-city home price index  fell 0.6 percent in October from the previous month, and 3.4 percent from October 2010. 

The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee last week announced it expects to keep federal funds rate at zero to 1/4 percent at least through 2014, saying the housing sector remained depressed and business investment has slowed. The federal funds rate is the rate at which banks lend to each other overnight. 

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.98 percent for the week ending Jan. 26, the eighth consecutive week that rate has remained below 4 percent, according to Freddie Mac. Last year, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.8 percent. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.24 percent last week, down from 4.09 percent last year.