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Southern California Home Prices Rise as Distress Declines

Home prices in Southern California climbed last month from a year earlier for the first time in 16 months as sales of distressed properties, which usually sell at a discount, dropped to the lowest level in four years.

The median paid for houses and condominiums was $290,000 in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties, up 3.6 percent from both March and a year earlier, San Diego-based data seller DataQuick said today in a statement. Last month’s median was the highest since December 2010, when it also was $290,000.

The price increase was helped by a larger portion of purchases in higher-priced coastal markets and a decline in sales of foreclosed properties, DataQuick said. Foreclosures and short sales -- deals where the transaction price is less than the amount owed on the property -- made up about 47 percent of last month’s resale market, the lowest level since April 2008.

“The housing market continued its painfully slow crawl back toward normalcy last month,” DataQuick President John Walsh said in the statement. “You can see it in the fading role of foreclosures, the uptick in median prices here and there, and the higher levels of sales in coastal counties.”

A total of 19,284 houses and condominiums sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties, according to DataQuick. That was down 3.4 percent from March, and up 5.1 percent from April 2011. Last month’s sales were 21 percent below the average for April since 1988, the company said.

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