- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) - California home prices rose in December while tight inventories kept a lid on sales, a research firm reported Wednesday.

The median sales price for new and existing houses and condominiums was $365,000 last month, up 1.4 percent from $360,000 in November and up 22.1 percent from $299,000 a year ago, San Diego-based DataQuick said.

It was the 22nd straight month of annual gains, including the last 13 months with gains above 20 percent.

There were 34,949 homes sold, up 4.5 percent from November but down 12.1 percent from the year-ago period. It was the lowest December tally in six years.

Price increases have cooled somewhat after a torrid run during the first half of 2013 but higher prices have failed to lure many potential sellers from the sidelines, limiting choices for buyers and further driving up prices.

The state had a 3.6-month supply of unsold single-family homes in November, more than the three-month supply a year earlier but still far below the five- to seven-month supply that is considered normal, according to the latest figures from the California Association of Realtors.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the median sales price was $548,500 in December, down 0.3 percent from $550,000 in November but up 23.9 percent from $442,750 a year earlier, DataQuick said.

Prices in the nine-county region have held steady since summer, but December marked the 21st straight month of annual increases and 14th straight month of annual increases above 20 percent.

There were 6,714 homes sold in the region, up 0.8 percent from November but down 12.7 from December 2012. Sales typically increase from November to December.

In Southern California, the median sales price was $395,000, up 2.6 percent from $385,000 in November and up 22.3 percent from $323,000 in December 2012, DataQuick reported.

It was the highest level since $408,000 in February 2008 and 17th straight month of annual double-digit percentage gains.

There were 18,415 homes sold in the six-county region, up 6.5 percent from November but down 9.2 percent from a year earlier.

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