Home prices slide in 17 of 20 metropolitan areas

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Home prices in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas fell in December by the most on record, a private survey showed.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index dropped 9.1 percent from December 2006, after a 7.7 percent decrease in November. Nationwide, home prices fell 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, the biggest decline in 20 years of record keeping.

December’s drop was the 12th consecutive monthly decline and the biggest since the group began keeping year-over-year records on the 20-cities index in 2001.

All but three of the 20 cities in the index showed year-to-year declines in prices in December, led by a 17.5 percent decrease in Miami and drops of 15.3 percent in Las Vegas and Phoenix. Prices rose by less than 2 percent in Seattle, Charlotte and Portland, Oregon. In Denver, the only Colorado city on the index, prices fell by 4.5 percent, making it one of the better performers on the index.