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California home prices, sales rise in April
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SAN DIEGO (AP) — California home prices increased for a second straight month as the supply of lower-priced homes in foreclosure dwindled and previously hesitant shoppers were lured by low lending rates, a research firm said Thursday.

The median price for new and existing houses and condominiums in the state was $264,000 in April, up 6 percent from the same period last year, DataQuick reported. That still is not far above $221,000 in April 2009 and well below a peak of $484,000 in early 2007.

There were 38,241 homes old last month, up 8.6 percent from April 2011, DataQuick said. It was the highest April tally since 2006.

The San Francisco Bay area posted its first annual price gain since September 2010. The median price in a nine-county region was $390,000, up 8.3 percent from a year earlier.

There were 7,675 homes sold in the Bay area in April, up 13.1 percent from last year.

DataQuick President John Walsh said the Bay area's price increase reflected fewer sales of foreclosed properties, which tend to cost less. Homes that were foreclosed upon in the previous year made up 21.7 percent of existing home sales, down from 27.8 percent a year earlier and the lowest level since January 2008.

"It appears that the market is taking a step in the direction of normalization, but only a step," Walsh said.

On Wednesday, DataQuick reported that Southern California posted its first annual price increase since December 2010. 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.

Sales in Southern California increased 5.1 percent from last year to 19,284 homes.

The California Association of Realtors reported this week that supplies have tightened. Its index of unsold inventory for existing homes was at 4.2 months in April, down from 5.6 months a year earlier. The index represents the amount of time needed to exhaust the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.