National home prices were down 3.7 percent from a year ago in December, a "significant improvement" over November’s 5.3 percent decline, according to a home-price index compiled by First American CoreLogic.

Markets that saw bigger declines included the metro Miami (-9.4 percent), Chicago (-8.6 percent), New York City (-8.5 percent) and Los Angeles (-3.9 percent) areas.

Markets seeing year-over-year price appreciation included the Washington, D.C., metro area (up 2.1 percent), Dallas (1.9 percent), Boston (1.1 percent) and Houston (0.9 percent).

The most drastic price declines by state were in Nevada (-20.8 percent), Arizona (-12.6 percent), Idaho (-11.4 percent), Florida (-11.3 percent), and Michigan (-10.8 percent). Prices were down from November to December in all of those states except Michigan.

First American CoreLogic’s LoanPerformance Home Price Index showed national home prices down 28.2 percent from their April 2006 peak.

If distressed properties are excluded, national home prices were down 3.3 percent from a year ago, and 21.5 percent from their peak.

The index covers 6,070 ZIP codes, 519 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSA) and 898 counties in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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