Since cresting in the summer of 2006, Tampa Bay area home prices have tumbled 40.6 percent and now approximate what they were in August 2003, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index.
Case-Shiller's housing report from March offered little encouragement that home prices were stabilizing. Tampa housing values plunged 22.4 percent from March 2008 to March 2009. From February to March, prices dipped 2.7 percent.
The Tampa metro area ranked seventh worst for depreciation on the 20-city index. The usual suspects — Phoenix, Las Vegas and Miami — surpassed us in home price decline. Phoenix's devaluation was 36 percent in a single year.
The Florida-California-Arizona sickness seems to have sprung its Sun Belt quarantine. Homes in Minneapolis were among the hardest hit, losing 23.3 percent of their value the past year. Less surprising was the 25.7 percent decline in Detroit with its hobbled auto industry.
S&P/Case-Shiller reported national home prices tumbled by 19.1 percent in the first quarter, the most in its 21-year history. Home prices have fallen 32.2 percent since peaking in the second quarter of 2006.
The rates of annual decline for the 10- and 20-city indexes slowed in March, the second straight month they didn't set record price drops. The 20-city index fell by 18.7 percent from the year before, and the 10-city index lost 18.6 percent.
Industry experts couldn't detect much light in the housing report. Foreclosure sales have been pounding home prices in much of the country.
"We had hoped to see the pace of home price declines moderating. Two percent per month is still worrisome," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.