California home sales fall to 6-year low in December

California home sales plunged to a six-year low in December, while home prices rose, indicating a meager supply of homes on the market.

Buyers across the Golden State purchased an estimated 34,949 new and resale houses and condos last month, 12.1% fewer than a year earlier and the lowest level for a December since 2007, research firm DataQuick said Wednesday.

Prices, meanwhile, rose 1.4% from November to $365,000 last month. The state's median — the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less — was 22.1% higher than in December 2012.

The December data round out a robust year for the state's housing market. Prices shot up rapidly earlier in 2013 as investors and families rushed to buy houses, convinced the bottom of the market had passed.

There was a cooling trend, however, in the second half of the year. Buyers had trouble affording the higher prices and the market entered a typically slower period.

At year's end, there were continued signs of normalization, DataQuick said. Sales of foreclosed homes accounted for 6.7% of December resales, down from 15.8% a year earlier.

In the state's two major regions, fewer buyers pulled the trigger last month, mirroring California as a whole.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, sales dropped 12.7% from a year earlier. Southern California home sales fell 9.2%.

Home prices in the Southland rose 2.6% from November to $395,000, or 22.3% higher than a year earlier. The Bay Area's median jumped 23.9% year-over-year to $548,500. It was essentially unchanged from a month earlier.

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