Bottom alert? February house prices slow their fall

For the housing market, the good news is that the bad news is getting less bad. While home prices in the most recent S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index still showed decline in the country's major cities, the rate of decline has slowed. Sixteen of the 20 metro areas surveyed in February saw an improvement in their monthly returns compared to January.

The five cities with the biggest one-year price dips -- Phoenix (-35 percent), Las Vegas (-31.7 percent), San Francisco (-31 percent), Miami (-29.5 percent) and Los Angeles (-24.1 percent) -- all saw a slowing of their decline. For example, in January the monthly fall-off was 5.5 percent in Phoenix, but "just" 4.5 percent in February. Las Vegas saw a price drop of 4.4 percent in January, compared to 'only' 3.8 percent in February. A few more months of data like this could mean the market is truly finding a bottom.