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San Diego County home prices dropped 20.5 percent year-over-year and 25.4 percent from the November 2005 peak, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller March 2008 home price index released this morning.

The index showed the largest and most rapid declines in homes priced less than $392,045. But prices continued a significant downward trend in the highest tier — those homes selling for more than $588,222.

Here’s the tier breakdown:

  • Lowest tier (Homes priced lower than $392,045): Prices fell 28.9 percent year-over-year and 33.9 percent from this tier’s peak in June 2006.
  • Middle tier (Homes priced between $392,045 and $588,222): Prices fell 21.5 percent compared to March 2007 and 27.8 percent from this tier’s peak in November 2005.
  • Highest tier (Over $588,222): Prices fell 13.3 percent year-over-year and 18 percent from this tier’s peak in June 2006.

The index measures price changes on the same houses over the years. It doesn’t track condos or new homes.

San Diego’s price declines contributed to a record plunge for the national index. From the Standard & Poor’s press release:

The decline in the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index — which covers all nine U.S. census divisions — reached well into double digits, recording a 14.1% decline in the 1st quarter of 2008 versus the 1st quarter of 2007, the largest in the series 20-year history. As a comparison, during the 1990-91 housing recession the annual rate bottomed at -2.8%. …

“The steep downturn in residential real estate continues,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index committee at Standard & Poor’s. “There are very few silver linings that one can see in the data.”

Check back for more on this later.

KELLY BENNETT

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