Home prices probably fell in January for the first time in eight months, one reason Americans are concerned about the state of the US economy.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities dropped 0.3% in January from a month earlier on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the median forecast of 18 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. A gauge of consumer confidence this month recouped less than half of the 10.5-point drop in February, a report from the Conference Board may show.

A decrease in prices underscores the threat a rising tide of foreclosures poses to the housing market, which helped trigger the worst recession since the 1930s. A real-estate relapse, combined with the loss of 8.4 million jobs since the economic slump began, would jolt sentiment and cut short an emerging recovery in household spending.