U.S. commercial real estate (CRE) prices as measured by Moody's/REAL Commercial Property Price Indices (CPPI) dropped 3.1% in July, which is the second straight monthly dip exceeding 3%.

Nationwide, prices are now 43.2% below their peak in October 2007 and are only 0.9% over the recession low recorded in October 2009, Moody's said.

The CPPI has declined 7.3% in the past year, and dropped 35.9% in the past two years.

"Commercial real estate markets were caught in a downdraft as the economy appeared to further weaken in the early part of 2010, resulting in relatively large declines in the index in the early summer," said Moody's Managing Director Nick Levidy. "The recent performance, while perhaps somewhat discouraging, should not come as a complete surprise. We have noted for several months that markets are likely to remain choppy for some time as property values slowly form a bottom in conjunction with a gradual recovery of the broader economy."

Added to this, annual indices published this month revealed prices on properties in the East rising in three of the four property categories — office, retail, and apartments — in the past year, according to Moody's.

Prices in the fourth category, industrial properties, dipped 7.6%. Retail properties in the East experienced the biggest gain in the region, rising 12.9% over the year, Moody's said.

The rating agency stated that retail prices in the South, by contrast, have dropped 31.5% over the year.

Prices have risen in southern apartment markets 1.4% over the last year, after dropping 44.2% in the previous year. The southern apartment index peaked three years ago and has declined 48.0% since then.

The Florida apartment market also realized its first positive return since its peak four year years ago, increasing 10.8% over the last year. Values are down 44.4% from the peak.

The Moody's/REAL CPPI is based on the repeat sales of the same properties across the country at different points in time.

Applying price changes measured in this way offers maximum transparency and methodological rigor, Moody's stated. This approach also circumvents the distortions that might happen with other commercial property value measurements including appraisals or average prices, the rating agency said.

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