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California home sales rise; median price tops $400,000
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IRVINE (AP) — California home sales continued their year-over-year rise last month as the state recovers from its housing slump. The median price of homes hit $401,000 statewide and $650,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area, a real estate research firm reported Thursday.

There were 40,612 homes and condos sold in California in May, down 2.1 percent from April but up 2.2 percent from the year before, according to figures from CoreLogic, Inc.

It was the fourth straight month is which statewide sales have risen compared to the previous year. Even so, sales were lower than the May average.

The median statewide sales price — meaning half the homes sold for more and half for less — was the second-highest price for any month in nearly 7 ½ years, behind April.

The price was down .9 percent from April but up 2.8 percent from a year earlier. It’s the second-highest price for any month in nearly 7½ years.

May also was the 39th straight month of year-over-year price hikes, although the increases have slowed drastically. The peak price jump of more than 29 percent was recorded in July 2013 but for nearly a year only single-digit hikes have been recorded.

In Southern California, home sales were down around 2 percent from April but up nearly 5 percent from a year earlier and the media price was $426,000 — up more than 2 percent year-over-year.

“It’s slow going, but in many ways, the housing market continues to edge back toward normalcy with fewer distressed property sales and fewer investor and cash purchases,” said Andrew LePage, a CoreLogic research analyst.

“While home sales remain sub-par, they’ve been trending closer to long-term averages. Job growth and other factors suggest we should see solid housing demand. But in the wake of the Great Recession and years of weak income growth, many would-be home buyers are struggling with affordability and credit hurdles.”

The same applied to the Bay Area, where home sales were down 1 percent from April but up more than 3 percent from May 2014.

Even though the median sales price was well over $200,000 higher than in Southern California, LePage said the increases were significantly lower than at the same time last year.

“Job growth, low mortgage interest rates and other forces have created a healthy housing demand. But that’s being checked by credit, affordability and inventory constraints,” LePage said.

Spring home-buying sales remained strong despite tight supply, which can throttle sales.

California had a 3.7-month supply of unsold homes in May, according to figures released Monday by the California Association of Realtors.

“A 6- to 7-month supply is considered typical in a normal market,” the association reported.