From every angle, the various housing price measures tracked by Standard & Poor's paint a grim picture in the U.S. during the third quarter. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices show continued negative annual returns in the U.S. National Home Price Index, the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite, as well as 15 of the 20 metro area indices.

The annual returns of the U.S. National Home Price Index, the 10-City Composite, and the 20-City Composite show all three still yielding negative returns as of September 2007. The quarterly S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index that covers all nine U.S. census divisions was down 1.7% from the second quarter and down 4.5% from the year-earlier period.

"The declines in the national figure are notable for two reasons," says Robert J. Shiller, Chief Economist at MacroMarkets LLC. "First, the third-quarter decline, at 1.7%, was the largest quarterly decline in the index's 21-year history. And, second, the year-over-year decline posted its second consecutive record low at -4.5%. Consistent with prior 2007 reports, there is no real positive news in today's data. Most of the metro areas continue to show declining or decelerating returns on both an annual and monthly basis. All 20 metro areas were in decline in September over August. Even the five metro areas that still have positive annual growth rates-Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Portland and Seattle-show continued deceleration in returns."

While Tampa remains the metro area with the largest annual decline, at -11.1%, Miami surpassed Detroit in September, reporting a decline of 10% over the past 12 months. Detroit and San Diego followed with -9.6% each. While the mix is slightly different, once again eight of the 20 metro areas reported their lowest recorded annual returns. That list comprises Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, Tampa, & Washington D.C.