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Southern California Home Sales Jump, Prices Rise in March

la-la-fi-home-sales-blc-jpg-20140611The Southern California housing market is awakening from a slumber. After a year of sluggish demand, more homes sold and prices perked up in March as an improving economy and short supply pushed up the median home price by $10,000, according to a new report.

But whether strong price increases will continue is uncertain, economists said. If more owners don’t list their homes for sale soon, the gains could accelerate as more buyers fight over slim pickings.

On the other hand, the median price — $425,000 in March — might not be able to climb much higher, constrained by lackluster wage growth, some economists said.

“Either story is possible,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist for the California Assn. of Realtors.

For now, would-be home buyers are bidding up prices.

The Southern California median price climbed 2.4% from February to $425,000 after hovering around $415,000 since May. Home sales surged 11% in March from a year earlier — only the third gain in 18 months, real estate firm CoreLogic said Thursday.

Job growth over the last year — as well as a period of subdued price appreciation — is giving more people confidence to purchase a home in pricey Southern California, economists said.

“We have had really good job performance for a while now,” said Richard Green, director of USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate.

Real estate agent Barry Sulpor said he’s seeing increased demand in the beach cities of the South Bay — an area that never really saw a slowdown like other Southern California communities.

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