WASHINGTON (8/25/11)--U.S. home prices fell by 0.6% between the first and second quarters of 2011, continuing a trend that has seen home prices fall by 5.9% over the past four quarters, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported. The 0.6% drop is based on the FHFA’s seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index (HPI), which the FHFA said is calculated from home sales price information from Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-acquired mortgages. When adjusted for inflation, the average price of a home fell by 10% over the past year, the FHFA added. Home-price declines were not consistent nationwide, however, as the New England and West South Central regional census divisions saw 0.7% increases in home values. The FHFA said that the Mountain census division saw the largest decline in home values during the quarter, with prices declining by 2.3%. The Mountain region covers Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, Nevada and Wyoming. The greater Atlanta, Ga.-area showed the greatest decline in home values among major metropolitan areas, with prices dropping by 14.1% over the past year. Home prices increased by 3.7% in Pittsburgh, Pa., over that same time period. This was the largest increase among top 25 metropolitan areas. A piece of relatively good news came earlier this week when Standard & Poor's Rating Services reduced its estimate of the time needed to sell off the housing market’s “shadow housing inventory” to just under four years. The ratings agency last quarter estimated it would take around 52 months to sell off these homes. S&P defines these so-called “shadow inventory” homes as foreclosed properties, real-estate owned properties, or homes with mortgages that are 90 days or more in arrears. S&P's Diane Westerback added that home prices “are likely to fall further as servicers clear the shadow inventory backlog and the properties under the distressed loans crowd the already weak housing market." (American Banker, August 24). For more from the FHFA, use the resource link.