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San Diego County housing prices were down 22.9 percent by the end of February compared to the same month in 2008, according to the most recent Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index, released this morning.

The index, which tracks the price movement over time of houses that have sold at least once before, showed prices in the county down 41.4 percent from the local market peak in November 2005.

San Diego was among seven metropolitan areas nationwide with price declines of at least 40 percent from their respective peaks. The others were: Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix and San Francisco.

Even with the 41 percent drop from the peak, San Diego prices remain about 47 percent higher than they were in January 2000, before the housing boom when prices more than doubled.

Today’s index shows San Diego prices at a level last seen around July and August 2002.

The index tracks the movement of home prices in 20 metro areas nationwide. The February index marked the first time since October 2007 that the national indices didn’t set new records for year-over-year declines. But a slowdown in declines doesn’t necessarily signify the end of price drops, especially considering how steep the declines have been over the past couple of years.

“We will certainly need a few more months of data before we can determine if home prices are finally turning around,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P, in a press release.

In San Diego, the three price-based tiers sustained the following declines:

  • Low tier (Under $281,207): down 50.4 percent from June 2006 peak and 27.6 percent year-over-year
  • Middle tier (between $277,740 and $409,042): down 39.3 percent from the November 2005 peak and 17.9 percent year-over-year
  • High tier (higher than $409,042): down 32.6 percent from June 2006 peak and 18.9 percent year-over-year

All of the tiers’ year-over-year declines were smaller in February than they were in January.

(To understand why the tier price levels change every month, read Rich Toscano’s recent post.)

We’ll have more on these numbers and on the local housing market later today.

Update: I rounded the tenths spot incorrectly for the drop from the peak for the high tier. The post has been changed to reflect that. I regret the error.

KELLY BENNETT

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