The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices continued their downward spiral in March, falling 2.4% in the 10-city composite index and 2.2% in the 20-city index from February. The drops in the city indices brought the year-over year decline for the first quarter of2008 to 14.1%, the largest dip in the 20-year history of the Case-Shiller series.

"The steep downturn in residential real estate continues," said David M.Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor¹s. "There are very few silver linings that one can see in the data. Most of the nation appears to remain on a downward path, with 19 of the 20 metro areas reporting annual declines, and six of those now at negative rates exceeding -20%. "

On a year-to-year basis, 15 metropolitan areas are reporting record lows, 11 of them involving double-digit declines. Chicago is the most recent addition to that list. Of the 20 measured metro areas, 18 have reported at least seven consecutive months of negative returns. Las Vegas is weakest, with an annual decline of 25.9%, followed by Miami and Phoenix at -24.6% and -23.0%, respectively.

On a month-to-month basis, half of the MSAs along with both composites fell by more than 2% in March, with Miami the worst performer at a 4.5% decline.

On a brighter note, monthly price appreciation was recorded in Charlotte, up 0.2% in March, and Dallas, up 1.1%. Also, seven markets managed to keep annual declines under 10%, including Cleveland at -9.5%; New York at -7.4%; Atlanta at -6.5%; Boston at -5.9%; Denver at -5%; Seattle at -4.4%; and Portland at -4%.

The national index, which is based on a value of 100 in January 2000, stood at 159.18 at the end of the first quarter, with the 10-city index at 186.06 and the 20-city index at 172.16. Only three markets, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington D.C. remain above 200, with New York having fallen out. Meantime, Detroit home values have fallen below 2000 prices, with that index sitting at 95.57, and Cleveland, at 106.42, heading for the same fate.