Two reports on house prices were released on Tuesday and neither was happy news for homeowners or for the real estate industry.

The S&P/Case Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index showed that the decline in house prices accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2007 with a 5.4 percent drop. The third quarter had seen a decline of only 1.8 percent and there was an 8.9 percent negative change over the course of the year. The year-over-year drop was the largest decline in the 20-year history of the index.

The composite index of 10 of the largest metropolitan areas was down 2.3 percent in December from November and was 9.8 percent lower than in December 2006. The composite index for 20 metro areas was down 2.1 percent in December from November and 9.1 percent for the year. 17 of the 20 metro areas reported annual declines while the other three reported moderate if any growth.



Miami showed the greatest decline, 17.5 percent, with Las Vegas and Phoenix following with -15.3 percent each. Charlotte, North Carolina; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle were the only three metropolitan areas in the study with any growth and Seattle's prices were up only 0.5 percent.

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) released its same house price survey which also showed home prices declining; falling 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007 as compared to the same time period one year earlier and 1.3 percent from the third quarter of 2007. The OFHEO study is massive and we will take a more comprehensive look at it tomorrow.