January 23, 2012 (Shirley Allen)

Monthly sales of new and existing homes in California surged in December while home prices remained steady even though distressed properties accounted for over half of all existing home sales during the month according to real estate information provider DataQuick.

An estimated total of 37,734 new and existing homes and condos were sold in the Golden State in December. That was 15.5 percent higher than the 32,669 homes sold in November and 4.2 percent higher than the 36,215 homes sold in December 2010. Historically, California typically averages 44,063 home sales in the month of December.

The median sales price for a home in California increased 0.8 percent to $246,000 from $244,000 in November but was 3.1 percent lower than the median price of $254,000 posted in December of 2010.

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 15 consecutive months.

Distressed property sales accounted for 54.2 percent of all re-sales in December, up from a revised 53.9 percent in November, with homes that had been foreclosed on in the previous twelve months accounting for 34.2 percent of the existing home sales. That was up from a revised 32.9 percent posted in the previous month but down from 38.1 percent in December of 2010.

Short sales remained unchanged at 20.0 percent of all re-sales last month. In December of last year, short sales accounted for 17.8 percent of all existing home sales.

Low mortgage interest rates and the lowest home prices in years helped California borrowers keep their payments low as the typical monthly mortgage payment for home buyers in December was $935, up slightly from $931 in November. The lowest monthly payment recorded since DataQuick started keeping records in 1988 was $924, reached in October of 2011.

The payment was still $120 less than the average mortgage payment of $1,055 in December of last year. December’s typical mortgage payment was 66.4 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