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Southern California home sales jump in November

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Southern California posted its highest number of November home sales in six years as the region's housing market continued to recover, a research firm said Wednesday.

There were 19,285 new and existing houses and condominiums sold in the six-county region last month, up 14.2 percent from November 2011, DataQuick said.

It was the highest November tally since 23,005 homes changed hands in 2006.

The median price last month in the region was $321,000, up $6,000 from the previous month and an increase of 16.7 percent from $275,000 last year. The 51-month high is $330,000.

Low borrowing rates are fueling the recovery, especially in mid- and high-priced areas, DataQuick said.

Sales below $300,000 fell 7.8 percent from the same period last year, while sales between $300,000 and $800,000 jumped 34.6 percent and sales above $800,000 soared 46.8 percent.

Orange County, with a median home price of $450,000, saw sales jump 25.3 percent from last year. Ventura County, with a median price of $370,000, reported a 31.2 percent sales increase.

San Diego County ranked third in the region with a median price of $358,000 and saw sales rise 22.4 percent.

San Bernardino County posted the lowest median price of $183,000 and was the only area to see sales slip. Homes in the county sold at a brisk pace during the foreclosure crisis, but November sales declined 3.1 percent from last year.

Foreclosed properties made up a smaller portion of the Southern California sales mix. That drove the overall median price higher because foreclosures tend to sell at steep discounts.

Homes that had been foreclosed upon during the previous year accounted for 15.3 percent of existing home sales, down from 31.6 percent a year earlier and 56.7 percent from February 2009.

Buyers continued to face limited pickings.

The California Association of Realtors' index of unsold houses in the Los Angeles area stood at 3.3 months in October — the latest period available — compared to 5.8 months a year earlier.

The figure represents how long it would take to sell all existing single-family homes at the current sales clip. Supply in a normal market is considered to be six to seven months.