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Home Sales Up Slightly in California but Median Price Falls

Home sales were up slightly in January across California, and the statewide median price fell, as investors flooded Southern California and the share of distressed home sales jumped in the Bay Area.

The state's median home price fell to $236,000, down 1.3% from January 2011. The median — the point at which half the homes in the state are sold for more and half for less — has fallen for 16 consecutive months on a year-over-year basis.

Foreclosures, tight mortgage credit and high unemployment in the state remain significant impediments to a housing recovery, though experts warn that the first month of the year rarely is an indicator of where the market is going because of the small pool of buyers involved.

“The higher-end sales have slowed in recent months as many struggle to qualify for loans and others just sit tight,” DataQuick President John Walsh said.

Statewide sales of previously owned and newly built homes were up 1.5% in January, marking the sixth consecutive month that year-over-year sales in California have improved. January sales fell 25.5% from December, though a decline from December to January is normal.

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