California home sales picked up in September from the same month last year as prices came down.
Sales were up 6.7% as bargain hunters paying cash snapped up foreclosures. Sales figures remained below the average for September in Southern California and the Bay Area, according to DataQuick, a real estate information service based in San Diego. As is typical, sales were lower than in August, down 6.2%, for a total of 35,404 homes sold last month.
The median price for a home sold in California in September was $249,000, down 6% from a year earlier and the same as in August. That makes for the 12th consecutive year-over-year monthly decrease in the median, which is the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less.
John Walsh, DataQuick president, said the pool of potential buyers was growing, even though that demand has not yet shown up in the numbers.
"Empty-nesters want something smaller, growing families want something bigger," he said. "People still die, they get married, retire — all of this generates demand. And only a fraction of that demand is being met in today's market."
Foreclosures still accounted for a big chunk of the state's housing market last month, as did short sales — transactions in which the bank allows a property to be sold for less than the value of the debt on the home. More than half the previously owned homes that sold in California last month were either foreclosures or short sales.
About 33.8% were foreclosures, down from a revised 34.3% in August and 35.6% in September 2010. Short sales made up 18.7% of the market, up from 17.5% in August and 15.6% in September 2010.
In Southern California, sales of homes were up 0.3% from the same month a year earlier and down 7.7% from August, to 18,149. The median price for the region fell 5.2% from the same month a year earlier, to $280,000, and the median was essentially flat from August, up 0.4%.
In the Bay Area, sales were up 6.6% from the same month a year ago and down 10.2% from August, to 6,749. The median price for the region fell 7.6% from the same month a year earlier and was down 1.4% from August, at $365,000.