Home prices in major metropolitan areas across the nation tumbled again in November, as builders continue to battle both a weak economy and high foreclosure rates. According to data released today in the S&P/Chase-Shiller Home Price Indices, home prices dropped in 19 of the 20 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) measured compared with October levels. San Diego was the only city with a gain—a meager 0.1% increase. Detroit was hardest hit, posting a 2.7% loss compared with the month before.

Year-over-year, only four MSAs posted gains, three of which were in California (Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco), and the fourth was Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, nine markets—Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Detroit; Las Vegas; Miami; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and Tampa, Fla.—hit the lowest home price levels they’ve seen since the peak years. Thirteen of the 20 MSAs tracked have posted at least seven months of decline since the beginning of 2010. Fourteen areas have posted at least four consecutive months of dropping prices.

The indices' data come from major metro areas scattered across the country. However, even with a variety of geographical points, it’s worth keeping in mind that the 20 markets that the data track include a population total of 26.78 million, a scant 8.5% of the total U.S. population, based on 2009 U.S. Census data.

The 10-City Composite Index came down 0.8% from October and dropped 0.4% from the year before; the 20-City Composite was down 1.0% from October and came in 1.6% lower than November 2009. With both composites down a dramatic 30.3% compared with the bubble months of June and July 2006, these indices have returned to where they were in the latter half of 2003. Measured from April 2009, their lowest level since the boom, prices were up in both the 10- and 20-city indices, 4.8% and 3.3% respectively. Both composites have declined during at least seven of the months tracked in 2010.  

The poor showing in numbers prompted David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard and Poor's, to suggest that a double-dip in home prices—something builders have been worried about for some time—may be confirmed by spring.

Claire Easley is senior editor, online, for Builder.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA, Charlotte, NC, Detroit, MI, Miami, FL, Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA, San Diego, CA, Seattle, WA, Los Angeles, CA, Washington, DC, Greenville, SC.