NEW YORK — Home prices dropped by the sharpest annual rate on record in October, and Las Vegas again was among leaders in losses, according to a closely watched index released Tuesday.
The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city housing index fell by a record 18 percent from October last year, the largest drop since its inception in 2000. The 10-city index tumbled 19.1 percent, its biggest decline in its 21-year history.
Both indexes have recorded year-over-year declines for 22 straight months. Prices are at levels not seen since March 2004.
Prices in the 20-city index have plummeted more than 23.4 percent from their peak in July 2006. The 10-city index has fallen 25 percent since its peak in June 2006.
"The numbers are getting worse. And I think they will get quite a bit worse over the next two months because housing demand has plunged since the market went into turmoil," said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight.
So many would-be homebuyers are sitting firmly on the fence.
None of the 20 cities in the Case-Shiller index saw annual price gains in October — for the seventh consecutive month — and 14 of them posted record year-over-year declines.
Three metro areas had annual declines of more than 30 percent. Phoenix home values lost almost 33 percent, while Las Vegas prices fell nearly 32 percent. San Francisco prices tumbled 31 percent year-over-year in October.
Atlanta, Seattle and Portland, Ore., all recorded their first double-digit annual declines in October.
Freddie Mac is set to release its weekly survey of mortgage rates today, and the Mortgage Bankers Association will release its weekly survey of mortgage applications.
So far, favorable mortgage rates have sparked a mini-refinancing boom, but the for-sale market has yet to see much of a boost. Buyers are nervous about getting into the market when home values are sliding and unemployment is rising.