Seattle-area home prices declined 4. 9 percent over the year ending in April, far less than the national average of 15. 3 percent, according to...

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Seattle-area home prices declined 4.9 percent over the year ending in April, far less than the national average of 15.3 percent, according to a closely watched index released Tuesday.

Seattle also was among a minority of major cities that saw prices rise from March to April, albeit Seattle’s gain was slight, just 0.7 percent.

This came on news that U.S. home prices tumbled in April at the fastest rate since the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index was begun in 2000, with all 20 metropolitan areas surveyed posting annual declines for the first time.

Prices nationwide are at levels not seen since August 2004.

Meanwhile, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, using a different survey method, reported Tuesday that U.S. home prices fell 4.6 percent in April from the same month last year, when the index peaked.

That marked the biggest decline ever in the agency’s monthly index, which dates back to January 1991.

This government index is calculated using mortgage loans of $417,000 or less, and covers major geographic areas such as the West Coast. State and city numbers weren’t available.

While the government report has shown nationwide price declines, the Case-Shiller index has shown far greater drops because it includes riskier loans and focuses on larger cities where prices rose further during the boom years. Case-Shiller tracks the sales of individual single-family homes.

No surveyed city stayed above water, according to the Case-Shiller index. The last holdout, Charlotte, N.C., finally succumbed to the national downturn, with prices there slipping 0.1 percent from a year ago.

Las Vegas and Miami continue to post the largest declines, falling 26.8 percent and 26.7 percent, respectively.

The annual declines in Denver, Chicago and Cleveland were less severe than in the previous month, but Maureen Maitland, a Standard & Poor’s vice president, is reluctant to characterize that as an indication of stabilization.

“We wouldn’t call a trend on one-month data,” she said.

The report also showed prices in eight metro areas, including Seattle, increased in April from March, but the gains could be seasonal blips as the homebuying season starts up, rather than a sign of a turnaround, Maitland said.

The housing slump, along with higher food and fuel prices and disruptions in the credit markets, has taken its toll on consumer sentiment.

An industry group Tuesday said U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly fell sharply in June to the fifth-lowest level ever. The Conference Board’s reading of consumers’ expectations also hit an all-time low.

Illinois suing Countrywide

The Illinois attorney general is suing Countrywide Financial, the troubled mortgage lender, and Angelo Mozilo, its chief executive, contending they defrauded borrowers by selling them costly and defective loans that quickly went into foreclosure, The New York Times News Service reported.

The lawsuit, expected to be filed today in Illinois state court, accused Countrywide and Mozilo of relaxing underwriting standards, structuring loans with risky features and misleading consumers with hidden fees and fake claims, like its heavily advertised “no closing costs loan.”

Countrywide did not respond to an e-mail message seeking comment.

Seattle-area data compiled by Seattle Times business reporter Elizabeth Rhodes. The Associated Press contributed to this report.