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Home prices reach low ebb in fourth quarter of 2010

Standard & Poor's representative says housing market is still struggling despite economic improvement.

Standard & Poor's representative says housing market is still struggling despite economic improvement.

The real estate market went out like a lamb in 2010, at least when it comes to home prices.

According to Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Index, home prices declined rather precipitously in the fourth quarter of 2010, especially when compared to the same period in 2009.

The index declined by 3.9 percent when compared to the third quarter of 2010, but it declined by 4.1 percent when compared to the same quarter in 2009.

"We ended 2010 with a weak report," said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's. "Despite improvements in the overall economy, housing continues to drift lower and weaker."

Blitzer cited the poor showing in several metropolitan areas. For example, in 18 of the 20 metropolitan statistical areas covered by Standard & Poor's, monthly composites were down. The only cities that saw gains in home prices on a year-over-year basis were San Diego and Washington, D.C.

People planning on moving to either area may find home prices have already stabilized, as a Fiserv analysis released earlier this month indicates as such. Fiserv expects home prices to stabilize for 75 percent of U.S. metropolitan areas by the end of the year.