Both sales counts and prices reached new highs in Southern California real estate markets last month, according to DataQuick Information Systems, a real estate information company.

While the appreciation rate continued to ease, a new price peak was reached in each of the Southland counties, the company reported. And led by a surge of buying activity in the Inland Empire, sales topped a monthly record set in 1988.

A total of 35,454 new and resale homes were sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in June. That was up 14.8 percent from 30,886 in May, and up 2.1 percent from 34,731 for June last year, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

June’s sales count edged past the 35,339 reached in August 1988, which, until last month, had been the highest in DataQuick’s statistics, which go back to 1988.

“Seventeen years ago, about one of six homes sold in Southern California was in the Inland Empire. Now it’s about one in three. While the region is attracting buyers from coastal counties, it’s also generating demand on its own this time around,” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

The median price paid for a Southern California home was $465,000 last month, a new record. That was up 2 percent from $456,000 in May, and up 14.5 percent from $406,000 for June 2004. The year-over-year price increase was the lowest since March 2002 when the $257,000 median was up 12.7 percent. Year-over-year price changes peaked in May last year at 26.9 percent.

A wide variation in year-over-year price increases reflects how far along individual markets are in their local cycles, DataQuick reported San Diego County started seeing double-digit price increases in early 2000, and last month’s annual increase was down to 6.3 percent. In San Bernardino County, double-digit increases started in mid-2002 and last month’s median was up more than 30 percent.

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Southland buyers committed themselves to paying was $2,021 last month, down from $2,028 for the previous month, and up from $1,928 for June a year ago.

Adjusted for inflation, current payments are about 5 percent below their peak in the spring 1989.

Indicators of market distress are still largely absent.

Foreclosure activity has bottomed out, but is still low. Down payment sizes are stable, as are flipping rates and non-owner occupied buying activity, DataQuick reported.

Median prices were up 30.9 percent in San Bernardino County from May 2004 to May 2005, DataQuick reported. Prices were up 23.2 percent in Riverside County in that time, up 16.8 percent in Ventura County, and up 14.7 percent in Los Angeles County.

The lowest median-price increases were in San Diego County, at 6.3 percent; and Orange County, at 11.7 percent. The number of home sales in San Diego dropped 8.8 percent from May 2004 to May 2005, while increasing 16.4 percent in Ventura County and 9.5 percent in San Bernardino County.

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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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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