Home sales in Southern California stayed at near-record levels in December, and prices moved up to another peak, DataQuick Information Systems reported.

A total of 32,423 homes were sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in December. That was up 17.4 percent from 27,628 for the month before and up 10 percent from 29,485 for December 2002.

An increase from November to December is normal for the season. Last month’s sales count was the highest for any December since 1988 when 32,454 homes were sold.

“This market just keeps on going and there are no indications that things will change during the next couple of months. We do expect the pace of home price increases to ease back somewhat by spring,” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

The median price paid for a Southern California home was $346,000 in December, a new peak. That was up 3 percent from November’s $336,000, and up 19.7 percent from $289,000 for December 2002, according to DataQuick.

Year-over-year price increases have varied from 16.7 percent to 21.6 percent during the last 12 months.

DataQuick, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.

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