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Southern California home prices increase 3.6 percent in April
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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Southern California home prices increased in April as the supply of properties for sale — especially low-cost homes in foreclosure — remained tight, a research firm said Wednesday.

The median price for new and existing homes and condominiums in the six-county region climbed to $290,000, up 3.6 percent from the same period last year, DataQuick said.

It was the first annual increase in 16 months and matched the highest price since December 2010.

There were 19,284 homes sold, up 5.1 percent from a year earlier.

DataQuick said there were fewer sales of foreclosed properties, which tend to go for lower prices. Higher-priced coastal markets also showed signs of improvement.

"The housing market continued its painfully slow crawl back toward normalcy last month," DataQuick President John Walsh said.

Properties that were foreclosed upon in the previous year made up 28.6 percent of existing-home sales in April, down from 33.8 percent in the year-ago period and the lowest since January 2008. In February 2009, foreclosed properties accounted for 56.7 percent of existing-home sales.

Short sales — in which the price was less than the amount the seller owed on the mortgage — accounted for 18.4 percent of existing-home sales last month, up from 17.3 percent a year earlier.

Sales of homes between $300,000 and $800,000 rose 3.5 percent in April from the same period last year. while sales for less than $200,000 fell 4.7 percent last month.

The four coastal counties — Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Ventura — accounted for 71.5 percent of sales last month, up 68 percent from April 2011. The two inland counties — Riverside and San Bernardino — had been driving much of the gradual rebound.