Prices drop by a third in some areas as market is flooded with foreclosed properties

House prices in 20 US cities dropped at the fastest rate since records began in the year to October, the Guardian has reported.

The S&P/Case Shiller Index showed a fall of 18% compared to a year earlier and prices are now around early 2004 levels. Worst affected were Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada, where prices dropped by a third.

The difficulty in obtaining credit and high unemployment have been blamed for the drop, as well as the market being flooded with foreclosed properties.

Analysts have predicted that the fall in prices will continue in 2009.