March 20, 2012 (Shirley Allen)

Monthly sales of new and existing homes in California increased slightly in February along with a modest increase in home prices, though unlike home sales, prices still remained below last year’s levels according to real estate information provider DataQuick.

An estimated total of 29,630 new and existing homes and condos were sold in the Golden State in February. That was 5.4 percent higher than the 28,111 homes sold in January and 8.5 percent higher than the 27,320 homes sold in February 2011.

Home sales in the area typically increase slightly between January and February and despite being 7.5 percent below the historical average of 32,017 sales for the month, it was still the best showing for the state since 2007.

The median sales price for a home in California increased 1.3 percent to $239,000 from $236,000 in January but was still 2.0 percent lower than the median price of $244,000 posted in February of 2011. California hasn’t seen an increase in its year-over-year median home price in 17 months.

The statewide current cycle peak price was $484,000 in early 2007, while the low during the current cycle was $221,000 in April 2009. Year-over-year home prices have declined for 16 consecutive months.

Distressed property sales accounted for 55.2 percent of all re-sales in February, down slightly from a revised 55.5 percent in January, with homes that had been foreclosed on in the previous twelve months accounting for 34.3 percent of the existing home sales. That was unchanged from the revised amount in January but down from 40.1 percent in February of 2011.

Short sales accounted for an estimated 20.9 percent of all re-sales last month, down from a revised 21.2 in January. In February of last year, short sales accounted for 18.7 percent of all existing home sales.

Low mortgage interest rates and the softest home prices in years continued to help California borrowers keep their payments low as the typical monthly mortgage payment for home buyers in February was $901, up slightly from $893 in January. The lowest monthly payment recorded since DataQuick started keeping records in 1988 was $882, reached in February 1999.

The payment was $132 less than the average mortgage payment of $1033 in February of last year. February’s typical mortgage payment was 67.4 percent lower than it was during the current cycle’s peak in June 2006.

Tags: DataQuick, California, new and re-sale homes, condos, sales, median home prices, distressed properties, short sales, typical mortgage payment