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San Diego County home prices ended 2008 down about 25 percent from their year-end level in 2007, according to the latest Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index released this morning.

Prices countywide were 39.2 percent lower than they were at the peak in November 2005. Home prices in the county blasted up by 150 percent in about six years this early decade. Even with a 39 percent drop from the peak, San Diego prices remain about 52 percent higher than they were in January 2000.

The Case-Shiller index released last month showed a sharper montly drop in the highest of the index’s three price tiers comparing, the first such event in the seasonally adjusted version of the index. But this morning’s index, measuring prices as of the end of last year, showed a more moderate drop across the board, with the lowest priced tier sustaining the deepest decline.

Prices in the lowest tier (homes priced under $296,097) were down 29.5 percent year-over-year and 48 percent from that tier’s peak in June 2006.

The middle tier (homes priced between $296,097 and $436,953) fell by 21.2 percent over the year and 37.8 percent from the peak in November 2005.

The top tier (homes priced above $436,953) was down 19.8 percent from December 2008 and 30.3 percent from the tier’s peak in June 2006.

Comparing December to November, the lowest tier dropped 1.7 percent and the middle tier dropped 0.9 percent. The top tier’s 1.2 percent monthly drop between November and December was more subdued than its 3 percent decline between the previous two months.

Still, new data a couple of weeks ago on the performance of million-dollar homes underscored the impact of the market downturn among higher-priced homes.

KELLY BENNETT

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