California home prices rose slightly in February from the previous month, while low inventories kept a lid on sales, a research firm said Thursday.
The median sales price was $355,000, up 0.6 percent from $353,000 in January and up 22.8 percent from $289,000 in February 2013. It was the 24th straight annual price increase.
There were 25,680 new and existing houses and condominiums sold in the state during February, down 0.6 percent from the previous month and down 10.6 percent from the same period last year.
Sellers have been scarce, despite the big price increases. There was a 4.3-month supply of single-family homes for sale in the state in January, up from a 3.5-month supply a year earlier but still below what is considered a normal market, according to the latest figures from the California Association of Realtors.
The median sales price in the San Francisco Bay area was $540,000 in February, up 2.9 percent from $525,000 in January and up 33.3 percent from $405,000 a year earlier. The median sales price in the nine-county region has risen from year-ago levels for the last 23 months.
There were 4,963 homes sold in the Bay area, up 5.7 percent from January but down 8.2 percent from the same period last year. It was the lowest February sales tally in six years.
"At some point, rising home prices will trigger a more significant increase in the number of homes on the market. It's just a question of when," said John Walsh, president of San Diego-based DataQuick.
Southern California's median sales price was $383,000 in February, up 0.8 percent from $380,000 in January and up 19.7 percent from $320,000 a year earlier, DataQuick reported Wednesday. It was the 23rd straight month of annual price increases in the six-county region.
Southern California also had the lowest February sales total in six years. There were 14,027 new and existing houses and condominiums sold in the region, down 3.1 percent from January and down 12 percent from a year earlier.