While house prices are still falling, the rate of the drop is becoming less severe, with the S&P/Case-Shiller Index showing that prices in 20 big cities declined 18.6% in February compared with the same month in 2008, slightly less than January's 19% year-over-year decline. The chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's, David Blitzer, said the statistic marked "the first month since October 2007 where the 10- and 20-city composites did not post a record annual decline."

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