California home sales are expected to remain essentially flat this year and rise slightly in 2012, according to a housing market forecast from the California Association of Realtors.

The trade group predicted California home sales this year will stay roughly flat compared to 2010, at 491,100 units — a relative improvement given the 10 percent drop in sales in 2010.

In 2012, CAR expects a slight 1 percent rise, to 496,200 units. CAR projects the median home price in the state will fall 4 percent this year, to $291,000, followed by a modest 1.7 percent rise in 2012, to $296,000, as the lackluster economy continues to weigh on the minds of consumers.

"It’s very clear that this market is struggling to gain momentum and move forward, and the pain is being felt in the consumer sector as far as consumer demand," said Leslie Appleton-Young, CAR’s chief economist.

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