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National home prices down during first quarter of 2011

National sales prices for homes are down.

National sales prices for homes are down.

According to the most recent data from Standard & Poor's, home prices reached new recession lows during the first quarter of 2011.

Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Index revealed that home prices fell 4.2 percent during the first three months of the year. The decline comes after a 3.6 percent fall in the previous quarter. Year-over-year, home prices are down 5.1 percent, reaching mid-2002 levels.

In all, the Home Price Index surveys 20 metropolitan statistical areas. Nineteen of these areas experienced a decline year-over-year. Twelve MSAs reached new index lows during March.

Of all the MSAs surveyed, Minneapolis had the largest drop, as prices fell 10 percent - the first double digit dip since Las Vegas fell 12 percent in March 2010. Washington, D.C. was the only region to experience price increases monthly and annually, growing 1.1 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively. Seattle's prices were up monthly, increasing by 0.1 percent, however, annual prices were down 7.5 percent year-over-year.

"This month's report is marked by the confirmation of a double-dip in home prices across much of the nation," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Indices. "Since December 2010, we have found an increasing number of markets posting new lows. In March 2011, 12 cities … fell to their lowest levels as measured by the current housing cycle."

With more properties now available for lower prices, now might be the best time for those seeking relocation to act.