Home prices in record plunge

By Julie Haviv

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Prices of single-family homes plunged a record 17.4 percent in September from a year earlier, according to a key S&P index released on Tuesday.

The composite index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 1.8 percent in September from August, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, and a co-developer of the index said rising unemployment makes the outlook for the hard-hit U.S. housing market even bleaker.

S&P said in a statement that its composite index of 10 metropolitan areas declined 1.9 percent in September from August for an 18.6 percent year-over-year drop, also a record.

Declines in home prices in most areas were greater in September than in August, S&P said.

“This is a pretty gloomy report,” Karl Case, co-developer of the index and a professor of economics at Wellesley College, said on a conference call following the release of the report.

And because the Standard and Poor’s S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices has not yet accounted for several important factors that have worsened in recent months, led by unemployment, the outlook is darkening further.

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