- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) — Home prices are falling faster in the nation’s largest cities, and a record number of foreclosures are expected to push prices down further through next year.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index released Tuesday fell 0.7 percent in September from August. Eighteen of the cities recorded monthly price declines.

Analysts say high unemployment, tight lending standards and millions of foreclosures will weigh on home prices.

“Unemployment is still high, people are afraid of losing their homes and credit is hard to get,” said Maureen Maitland, vice president of S&P indices.

Still, Americans are gaining more confidence in the broader economy, a new report Tuesday showed. The Conference Board, a private research group based in New York, said consumer confidence rose to a five-month high in November.

Yet the housing market remains depressed.

Among the cities in the Case-Shiller index, Cleveland recorded the largest decline. Prices there dropped 3 percent from a month earlier. Prices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, which had been showing strength this year, also dropped in September from August.

Washington and Las Vegas were the only metro areas to post gains in monthly prices.

The 20-city index has risen 5.9 percent from their April 2009 bottom. But it remains nearly 28.6 percent below its July 2006 peak.

And home prices have fallen in 15 of the 20 cities in the past year.

Prices in Tampa, Fla., fell to their lowest point since 2003. Portland, Ore., Charlotte, N.C., Miami are also near their low points since the U.S. housing market collapsed in 2006.

Prices were on the upswing in many cities from April through July, mostly boosted by government tax credits which have since expired. Job worries and record high foreclosures are dampening buyer demand and weighing on prices.

The national quarterly index, which measures home prices in the nine U.S. census regions, dropped 2 percent in the third quarter from the previous quarter.

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