Charlotte-area home prices fell to new lows in February, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday.
Overall, U.S. home prices in the 20 cities tracked by the index fell 3.5 percent in February from the prior year, slightly better than the 3.9 percent drop reported for January.
Charlotte home prices dropped 1.8 percent between February 2012 and the previous year and fell .4 percent between February and January.
The index was unable to publish January statistics last month for the metropolitan area because of delays in reporting by Mecklenburg County. On Tuesday, the index said it had received the necessary data.
"The unfortunate news is that it confirms that Charlotte is one of the cities that is still reaching new lows," said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices.
Charlotte was one of nine cities posting new lows since the housing market started falling in 2006, joining Atlanta, Chicago ,Cleveland, Las Vegas, New York, Portland, Seattle and Tampa.
The index, which tracks repeat sales, shows five cities - Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix - posted positive returns. Phoenix, which saw housing prices soar then crash, has posted five consecutive positive monthly returns, yet remains down more than 54 percent from its peak.
Atlanta continued its downward spiral with a 17.3 percent drop, its steepest annual drop in the index's 20-year history.
Some analysts had expected to see home prices increase. Overall, some housing statistics have suggested an improving market. Inventories are falling, as is the percentage of sales involving foreclosed homes. In Charlotte, February home sales jumped 21.8 percent from the previous year, according to the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association.
The index, which lags two months, excludes sales of new homes.
"While there might be pieces of good news in this report, such as some improvement in many annual rates of return, February 2012 data confirm that, broadly-speaking, home prices continued to decline in the early months of the year," Blitzer said in a statement.