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Southern California housing market improves slightly in June

The Southern California housing market showed some signs of stabilizing last month with sales popping up more than average from May to June, a real estate data firm reported Tuesday.

Sales rose 11.6% from May, driven by first-time buyers and investors scouring the market for bargains. A total of 20,532 newly built and previously owned homes sold in the region last month, according to DataQuick of San Diego. That tally was nevertheless a 14.0% decline from the same period a year ago, the last month that buyers could close on their home purchases and qualify for the popular federal tax credit.

The median sales price for the region was $285,000, a 1.8% increase from May though still down 5.0% from June 2010. The median, the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less, was 15.4% above the most recent bottom of $247,000 hit in the throes of the financial crisis in April 2009.

“The housing market remains dysfunctional and lopsided, just somewhat less so than it was a few months or a year ago,” DataQuick President John Walsh said. “The market mix indicates that a lot of potential buyers are either stuck, for lack of equity, or spooked and are waiting things out.”

Sales of so-called distressed properties — those whose owners are in some state of default — made up more than half of the Southland resale market last month. Roughly one out of three homes resold was a foreclosure, while almost one in five was a short sale, in which the mortgage holder accepts a sale price that is less than the outstanding debt on the property.