Single-family home prices fell more than expected in November, highlighting the struggle for a sector yet to make a meaningful recovery, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday.
The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas declined 0.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, a bigger drop than the 0.5 percent economists had expected.
The decrease added on to the 0.7 percent decline seen in October.
The consensus view was that the rate of decline in home prices was slowing, and in fact what we've seen at the end of the year is that the rate of decline in home prices is accelerating, said Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, 17 out of 20 cities racked up monthly declines and average national home prices were around levels seen in mid-2003.
Prices in the 20 cities also steepened their year-over-year decline, falling 3.7 percent compared to a 3.4 percent decline in October.
Despite continued low interest rates and better real GDP growth in the fourth quarter, home prices continue to fall, David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's, said in a statement.
The trend is down and there are few, if any, signs in the numbers that a turning point is close at hand.
There was little reaction in financial markets immediately following the data as investor attention turned to Europe and hopes that a Greek bond deal will get done this week.
Recent data has lead to optimism the housing sector is in the early stages of the healing process, with some economists looking for prices to find a bottom this year. Still, the recovery is expected to be a lengthy one as the market remains hampered by an excess amount of homes for sale in the midst of weak demand.
(Reporting By Leah Schnurr; additional reporting by Emily Flitter; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)