Housing prices in February posted their first annual increase in more than three years, according to a new reading of the closely watched Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index.

However, not all was rosy in the new numbers. Despite the 0.6% increase on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, 11 of the 20 cities in the index experienced declines. Las Vegas -- one of the hardest hit cities in the nation in terms of price declines -- saw the largest annual drop at almost 15%. Tampa saw prices fall 6.1% with Seattle down -5.6%.

Among cities showing a gain, San Francisco was on top with a 12% improvement year-over-year. The last time prices rose on a year-over-year basis was in late 2006. On a sequential basis, the index declined from January by 0.1%. Before that, there were eight consecutive monthly increases.

Some housing economists think home prices may have bottomed out in the fourth quarter, but few are predicting any significant gains in equity during the year ahead, especially with federal tax credits tied to home purchases expiring this month.

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