Home prices in 20 U.S. cities fell at a record annual pace in July, ae Case-Shiller/Standard & Poor's index shows, showing no sign of hitting bottom.

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July home prices fell a record 16.3 percent from the previous year, a record for the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of 20 cities.

But the Seattle area, one of the 20 metropolitan areas in the index, fared better than many of the others. The area median price fell 8.2 percent from July 2007.

The 20-city drop, the largest in the closely watched index started in January 2000, showed that the monthly rate of decline is slowing but that no turnaround is in sight.

The index peaked in July 2006 and has plummeted nearly 20 percent since. There’s no evidence of a bottom, said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P.

For the fourth straight month, no city in the index saw annual price gains in July. But there is a possible silver lining: The pace of monthly declines is slowing.

From May to July, home prices fell at a cumulative rate of 2.2 percent — less than half the cumulative rate of February to April.

Seattle’s one-year price change is the eighth-highest on the 20-city index. Prices fell 0.2 percent from May to June and 1 percent from June to July, placing it 13th for both month-to-month drops.

Still, the shows that the Seattle-area median price is up 76 percent since January 2000, one of the five highest increases. Prices in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles and Miami have increased more.

In July, Las Vegas prices plunged the most, nearly 30 percent, with Phoenix diving 29 percent, and Miami, 28 percent.

Seven cities showed positive or flat returns from June to July, down from nine that showed month-to-month gains in June. Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver and Minneapolis posted positive returns for three months or more.

Although the Case-Shiller is a widely watched gauge of market conditions, the index lags other key housing indicators. August data on new and existing home prices and sales showed the real estate recession is still in full swing.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors said the median sales price of an existing home fell 9.5 percent to $203,100 last month, the largest annual price decline on records dating to 1999. The median home price of a new home fell 5.5 percent to $221,900 in August, the Commerce Department also said last week.

The Case-Shiller numbers have yet to reflect the effects of the recent turmoil in the financial industry. Mortgage rates have been on a roller coaster, and the confidence of homebuyers and sellers has surely been eroded by yesterday’s 778-point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average and the government’s failed $700 billion Wall Street bailout.

“How many people are going to sit down and say: ‘You know honey, it’s a good time to buy a house?”‘ asked Thomas Lawler, a housing economist in Northern Virginia, as stock markets tanked Monday. “The government really needs to get its act together.”