The risk of a general decline in home prices over the next two years has declined in recent months, according to the winter 2005 PMI Risk Index, which fell 25 points from its autumn 2004 level.The average value of the index for the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas stood at 161 as of January, said PMI Mortgage Insurance Co., the Walnut Creek, Calif.-based mortgage insurer that created the index. The index value means that these cities have on average a 16.1% probability of experiencing a home price decline in the next two years. PMI said its analysts attribute the decline in the index to improving nationwide economic conditions indicated by generally lower regional unemployment rates. The MSAs topping the index were Boston-Cambridge-Quincy (Mass. and N.H.), at 533; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (Calif.), at 530; and San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont (Calif.), at 479.

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