Southern California home sales fell in April, but prices kept right on climbing, underscoring a tight market defined by few homes on the market.
The six-county region's median price rose 6.8% from a year earlier to $458,000, real estate data firm CoreLogic said Tuesday. That was the most expensive median since September 2007, when it reached $462,000.
Sales, meanwhile, fell 3.2 % from a year earlier, snapping a fourth-month streak in which they increased.
CoreLogic analyst Andrew LePage said the dip reflects both tight inventory and a shrinking pool of buyers who can readily afford today's sky-high prices.
"Many would-be homebuyers continue to struggle with inventory, credit and affordability constraints," he said.
The high cost of housing has emerged as a growing political issue in Sacramento and has been cited by some businesses as a reason for moving operations outside the state.
The owner of Jamba Juice, for example, said this month it would move its corporate headquarters from Emeryville in the Bay Area to outside Dallas, in part because of Texas' "attractive cost of living."
Academics and economists have blamed an underproduction of housing in the state, relative to population growth, as a major culprit in widening the gap between California home prices and the rest of the nation.
Home prices in coastal California are more than three times more expensive than the rest of the country, compared with only about 50% more pricey in the 1970s, according to a report last year from the state's independent Legislative Analyst's Office.
In a bid to ease the state's housing crunch, Gov. Jerry Brown last week proposed to streamline the permitting process for developers who include below-market units in their projects.
Though fewer Californians were willing to pull the trigger on a home purchase in April, steady job growth and historically low mortgage rates mean there is still enough demand to send values higher.
The median price rose in all six counties tracked by CoreLogic: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and San Diego.
In L.A. County, it climbed 7.3% from a year earlier to $520,000, while in Orange County it jumped 7.5% to $645,000.
Prices rose 6.5% in Riverside, 6.3% in San Bernardino, 10.4% in Ventura and 7.5% in San Diego.
In other housing news Tuesday, the Commerce Department reported that builders broke ground on 6.6% more homes last month than in March. In the West, housing starts fell 10%.
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1:16 p.m.: This story was updated to include the fact that April's sales decline was the first since November.