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Prices for standalone homes sold in San Diego County were 21 percent lower in January’s Case-Shiller/Standard & Poor’s home price index than they were at the peak in November 2005, according to the latest figures released this morning.

Compared to January 2007’s index, prices fell nearly 17 percent. The index tracks the price changes on individual houses — detached homes that have sold at least once before.

The index is broken into three tiers. The lowest-priced tier of the homes measured for January’s index — those homes priced lower than $420,873 — saw a sharp drop in price of 24.8 percent year-over-year and 28.6 percent from the peak.

The middle tier — homes priced between $420,873 and $629,470 — experienced a 18.2 percent drop from January 2007 and a 23.1 percent drop from the peak.

With more modest, but still significant, price drops, the highest tier — those priced higher than $629,470 — saw a 10 percent drop year-over-year and a 14.6 percent drop from the peak.

The Case-Shiller index assigned a value of 100 to the county’s home prices in January 2000 and tracked the market’s ascent as a percentage of that base. At the peak, in November 2005, the county’s index reached a level of 250.34.

Today’s index, for January 2008, marks the first time since March 2004 that the value assigned to prices in San Diego County has been less than 200 — 197.45 for this month’s index. That means prices are still 97.45 percent higher than they were in January 2000. But they’ve fallen significantly from that peak, when prices were 150.34 percent higher than they were in 2000.

Update: An earlier version of this post misstated the percent drop from the peak for the highest tier in the January index. We regret the error.

KELLY BENNETT

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