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SoCal home prices soar during May
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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Southern California home prices rose in May at the fastest annual clip in nearly nine years as investors and cash purchasers competed for a thin supply of properties for sale, a research firm said Tuesday.

The median price for new and existing houses and condominiums reached $368,000 last month, up 24.7 percent from May 2012, DataQuick said. It was the 14th straight month of annual gains and the biggest annual increase since the median rose 24.8 percent in October 2004.

All six counties posted double-digit price increases, giving the region its highest median price since May 2008, when it hit $370,000.

"We're deep into uncharted territory: Amazingly low mortgage rates, a razor-thin inventory of homes for sale and the release of years' worth of pent-up demand," said DataQuick President John Walsh.

Thin supplies kept a lid on sales, particularly in inland areas. There were 23,034 homes sold during the month, up nearly 3.8 percent from a year earlier.

Sales were brisk along much of the coast, with Orange and San Diego counties posting double-digit gains. Sales fell in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, there was a 2.8-month supply of unsold homes on the market in April, compared with a 4.5-month supply a year earlier, according to the most recent data from the California Association of Realtors. A five- to seven-month supply is considered normal.

In another sign of tight supplies, Los Angeles-area homes were on the market for an average of 35.2 days in April, compared with 54.8 days a year earlier.

Investors and buyers paying cash continued to drive sales in May.

Buyers paying all cash accounted for 31.9 percent of sales in Southern California, down slightly from 32.1 percent a year earlier but still well above the average of 16.1 percent since DataQuick began keeping track in 1988.

Absentee buyers — mostly investors and second-home purchasers — bought 29.5 percent of the homes that were sold, up from 27.5 percent a year earlier and well above the monthly average of 18.1 percent since 2000.