Slowing home price appreciation and decreased affordability have boosted the risk of home price declines in the nation's 50 largest housing markets, according to PMI Mortgage Insurance Co., Walnut Creek, Calif.The average score in the PMI U.S. Market Risk Index rose from 328 to 342 in the fourth quarter, the company reported. This means the company's estimate of the probability of experiencing a home price decline in the next two years has risen from 32.8% to 34.2% in the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas. According to the index, there are now 19 markets with a greater than 50% chance of price declines over two years, up from 18 in the third quarter. "Years of rapid appreciation have made homes less affordable in many areas, and that's not sustainable over the long term, so that what we are seeing is not unexpected," said Mark F. Milner, chief risk officer of PMI Mortgage Insurance. "Over time, moderating appreciation will bring prices back in line with economic fundamentals, particularly incomes, bringing the market back to a healthy balance." PMI can be found online at http://www.pmigroup.com.

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