U.S. home values lost $1.9 trillion through this year's third quarter and were projected to fall further in the fourth quarter, says Zillow.com, a Seattle-based online real estate information site.

According to Zillow Real Estate Market Reports that was released this week, housing market woes left roughly 11.7 million U.S. households owing more on their mortgage than their homes are worth. That's more than 14% of the nation's homeowners, and the collective drop in home values through the third quarter was 8.4% versus the year-earlier period.

But glimmers of hope exist. "On the positive side, in the third quarter some markets-- particularly those hit hardest in the downturn--showed smaller year-over-year declines than in the prior quarter," says Stan Humphries, Zillow's vice president of data and analytics. "Our optimism here, though, must be tempered by the knowledge that the larger economic problems that emerged in the fourth quarter will likely further challenge the real estate market."

Only 30 of the 163 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) included in the Zillow database saw gains in median home values as of the third quarter. Changes in value are calculated by averaging the year-over-year change in each of the first three quarters of the year.

According to Zipper's scorecard, the Carolinas held up particularly well with four of the top five performing MSAs. Jacksonville, N.C. fared best during the first three quarters with home values up 4.9%, followed by Winston-Salem, N.C. (4.1%), Anderson, S.C. (3.5%), State College, Pa. (3.4%), and Burlington, N.C. (3.1%).

California had the five-worst performing areas during this time with Stockton faring worst (-32.3%), followed in ascending order by Merced (-31.2%), Modesto (-30.4%), Salinas (-30%), and Vallejo-Fairfield (-27.8%).