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Originally published April 26, 2011 at 7:40 AM | Page modified April 27, 2011 at 2:04 PM

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Home prices falling in Seattle and most major U.S. cities

Prices in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Ore., Seattle and Tampa are all at their lowest point since 2006 or 2007, at the height of the housing boom. The cities with the steepest declines from January were Minneapolis, San Francisco, Chicago and Miami.

The Associated Press

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WASHINGTON — Home prices are falling in most major U.S. cities, and at least 10 major markets, including Seattle, are at their lowest point since the housing bubble burst.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city index shows price declines in 19 cities from January to February. The index fell for the seventh straight month. Prices fell at a faster rate in 11 markets in February compared with the previous month.

High unemployment, stricter lending rules and fears that prices will fall further are among the reasons few people are buying and selling homes. A record number of foreclosures are forcing down home prices in most metro areas, and prices are expected to keep falling through this year.

"There is evidence that potential sellers are holding their properties off the market, waiting for housing prices to stop falling," said Bricklin Dwyer, an analyst at BNP Paribas.

Detroit was the only market to show a monthly gain, although it is one of five cities where home prices are now below their January 2000 levels.

Prices in Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Las Vegas; Miami; New York; Phoenix; Portland; Seattle; and Tampa, Fla., are all at their lowest point since 2006 or 2007, at the height of the housing boom. The cities with the steepest declines from January — 2 percent or more were Minneapolis, San Francisco, Chicago and Miami.

The Seattle metropolitan area, which includes King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, was right behind them with a 1.9 percent monthly drop. Home prices in the Seattle area haven't been lower since June 2004, according to Case-Shiller.

"It's hard to sell when buyers have the leverage and foreclosures continue to create a gap between distressed sale prices and non-distressed sale prices," said Jonathan Basile, an economist at Credit Suisse Securities.

More than 90 percent of homeowners say it's a bad time to sell their home, according to the Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers.

Seattle Times business reporter Eric Pryne contributed to this report.

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