Denver home prices slide as national index posts record 18 percent drop

Home prices in Denver fell in October to levels not seen since May 2004, according to a key index that also showed national home prices tumbling at the steepest rate on record as the financial crisis hit Main Street. Sunbelt cities Phoenix and Las Vegas saw the biggest drops from a year earlier but every city measured in the Standard and Poor’s Case-Schiller Home Price Index saw declines and 14 of the 20 cities set records for falling prices. “October was clearly the free-fall month,” the chairman of S&P’s index committee told the New York Times. “Everything was going against us in October, without exception.”

While Denver home prices slid in October — both from the previous month and a year earlier — the city didn’t suffer nearly as much as many in the index. Overall, home prices on the index dropped 18 percent from the previous October, marking the 22nd straight month the entire index has fallen.

Denver recorded a 5.2 percent drop in home prices from October 2007 to October 2008, according to the index. That’s the third-smallest year-over-year decline on the index, with Dallas and Charlotte, N.C., posting shallower declines of 3.0 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. Detroit and San Francisco posted the sharpest declines from September to October with home prices falling 4.5 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively, in a single month. Denver’s home prices fell 1.5 percent in one month, a slower decline than all but four cities on the index.

The S&P index sets metro prices for existing home sales in January 2000 at 100 and adjusts monthly, taking into account remodeling and improvements that can add value. Denver’s score in October was 129.05, meaning the price is 29.05 percent higher in October than it was in January 2000. At its peak in August 2006, the Denver home sale index reached 140.8 and has meandered downward from there.

Here are the 20 cities in the S&P index, ranked by steepest declines in home price since the previous October, as calculated by the Wall Street Journal:

Phoenix -32.7%
Las Vegas -31.7%
San Francisco -31.0%
Miami -29.0
Los Angeles -27.9%
San Diego -26.7%
Detroit -20.4%
Tampa -19.8%
Washington -18.7%
Minneapolis -16.3%
Chicago -10.8%
Atlanta -10.5%
Seattle -10.2%
Portland -10.1%
New York -7.5%
Cleveland -6.2%
Boston -6.0%
Denver -5.2%
Charlotte -4.4%
Dallas -3.0%

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