Prices for lower-end homes were up marginally from February to March but were off 1.9% for the first quarter of 2010, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's (FHFA) seasonally adjusted, purchase-only House Price Index (HPI) released Tuesday.

Unadjusted, the national decline in the HPI for the quarter, year-over-year, was 2.2%. Homes covered by the index, which is calculated from information obtained from Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-acquired mortgages, lost 3.1% of their value from first quarter 2009 to the first quarter of this year. On an annualized basis, that would indicate a pace of -7.6%.

The U.S. index at the end of March stood at 193.9. It is based on an index of 100 set in January, 1991.

The 0.3% gain in FHFA¹s seasonally adjusted monthly index for March offset some of the price decreases in the prior months. The monthly change for the January-to-February period was revised downward to -0.4%t, from an initial estimate of -0.2%.

FHFA said the price of homes in its survey, adjusted for inflation, fell approximately 6.3% over the latest year. FHFA's all-transactions house price index, which includes data from mortgages used for both home purchases and refinancings, also fell during the latest quarter. The index declined 1.6% in the quarter and 6.8% over the four-quarter period.

Regionally, the price changes from February to March were: Pacific, +1.1%; Mountain, +0.7%; West North Central, +0.2%; West South Central -0.8%; East North Central, +0.3%; East South Central +2.5%; New England, -0.5%; Middle Atlantic, -1.0%; and South Atlantic, +0.2%. Year-over-year, March to March, the changes were: Pacific, +3.1%; Mountain, -5.9%; West North Central, -1.8%; West South Central, -0.9%; East North Central, -3.9%; East South Central, -1.0%; New England, -3.3%; Middle Atlantic, -1.5%; and South Atlantic, -5.1%.