- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2016

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Buying in more affordable inland markets helped California notch a 12th straight annual gain in home sales in February, a real estate data firm reported Thursday.

Californians bought an estimated 28,684 new and existing single-family homes and condominiums in February, up 4.7 percent from January and up 7.5 percent from February 2015. It marked the strongest February sales tally since 2013.

The median sales price was $396,500, down 0.9 percent from $400,000 in January but up 4.3 percent from February 2015. Prices have risen from year-ago levels for 48 straight months, though February’s gain was the lowest annual percentage increase in six months.

The strongest sales gains came in inland markets like Contra Costa County in the San Francisco Bay area and Riverside County in Southern California. High prices and limited stock kept a lid on sales in some coastal markets.

In the San Francisco Bay area, the median sales price in February was $609,500, down 1.7 percent from $620,000 in January but up 5.1 percent from $580,000 in February 2015. Sales in the nine-county region totaled 4,853 homes, up 0.3 percent from January and up 0.4 percent from the same period of 2015.

CoreLogic said stronger sales in less expensive markets like Contra Costa, Napa and Solano counties helped lower the Bay area’s median price from January.

In Southern California, the median sales price was $430,000, down 0.5 percent from $432,500 in January but up 3.7 percent from $414,500 in February 2015.

Sales in the six-county region totaled 15,373 homes, up 5.1 percent from January and up 9.1 percent from February 2015. Riverside and San Bernardino counties in the less-expensive Inland Empire posted the strongest annual sales increases.

The California Association of Realtors reported that supply was edging toward normal, with a 4.6-month supply of unsold of single-family homes in February. A five- to seven-month supply is considered normal.

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