The housing markets in Buffalo, N.Y., and the Texas cities of Brownsville and Lubbock showed the biggest improvements in outlook in the latest mortgage risk index released by United Guaranty Corp., Greensboro, N.C.Brownsville's index ranking plunged from a 9 to a 4, due mostly to a decline in home price appreciation from 6.9% to 3.4%, UGC said. (The quarterly ACUFactor mortgage risk index uses a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing the least likelihood that an area will experience a significant decline in key economic indicators.) Lubbock's score fell from 5 to 2, thanks largely to slower price appreciation, and Buffalo's fell from 6 to 3, chiefly due to a spurt in its unemployment rate, the company said. The ACUFactor index projects geographic market risk for the top 200 metropolitan statistical areas over the next four to eight quarters. UGC can be found online at http://www.ugcorp.com.

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