National home prices were down less than 1% in January compared to one year earlier, and down 1.9% from the previous month, according to First American CoreLogic’s monthly home price index (HPI). The 0.7% year-over-year decline in January was better than the 3.4% decrease in December. January’s narrowed decline comes exactly one year after the CoreLogic HPI took its biggest annual decline in the 30-year history of the index. Excluding distressed sales, prices declined 0.4% year-over-year in January, CoreLogic said. That’s better than 3.3% in December 2009. CoreLogic projects house prices will continue to decline another 3.7% into the spring before bottoming out in April. After prices begin to stabilize, there will be a modest recovery for the balance of 2010. Excluding distressed sales, prices are projected to decreased only another 0.9%. “The cumulative loss in home prices of 28% is more severe than the next worst housing recession of 24% cumulative decline which began in Louisiana in the mid-1980s,” said First American CoreLogic chief economist Mark Fleming. “It took Louisiana five years to recover from the bottom, we expect this recovery to take at least as long.” Michigan, Oregon, Nevada, Maryland and Arizona are expected to see the largest future price declines for the balance of 2010, ranging from 3.5% to 4.5%. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Alabama, South Dakota and Kansas are projected to see price appreciation ranging from 0.5% to 1.5% through the end of 2010. During the next 12 months, CoreLogic projects national price will increase 4.5%. Excluding distressed sales, that appreciation grows to 5.6%. Nevada experienced the worst year-over-year price decline in January at 16.9%, followed by Idaho (12.9%), Florida (9.3%), Oregon (8.9%) and Arizona (8.9%). Excluding distressed sales, the worst five states for year-over-year price declines were Nevada (15.1%), Idaho (9.4%), Florida (8.5%), Arizona (8.2%) and Wyoming (6.8%). Write to Austin Kilgore.

3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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