Home sales and prices strengthened throughout California in May, providing the latest evidence that housing might be snapping out of its long slumber.
Sales popped 9.3% from April and jumped 17.6% from May 2011 to total 41,790 new and previously owned houses bought statewide, according to real estate research firm DataQuick of San Diego. The state's median home price hit $270,000, rising 2.3% from the prior month and up 8.4% from May 2011.
"It's not exactly a stampede, but people are starting to move off the housing market sidelines in numbers we haven't seen in quite a while," DataQuick President John Walsh said. "And it's not just first-time buyers and investors. There are more move-up buyers in mid- to high-end coastal counties."
Home sales in the Golden State have posted year-over-year gains for 10 consecutive months, and foreclosures have steadily been making up a smaller share of the market. Sales of distressed homes made up 46.2% of the market, the lowest figure since April 2008.
Just slightly more than 1 in 4 homes sold in California were foreclosures last month, while just under 1 in 5 homes were short sales, according to the data.
In Southern California, the number of homes sold soared 21% compared with a year earlier, while the median price rose 5.4%. In the Bay Area, sales were up 26.1% from May of last year and the median rose 7.5%.
Although the foreclosure problem is improving, a RealtyTrac report underscored that the large number of distressed properties remains a headache, particularly in some areas. The Inland Empire, for instance, had the highest foreclosure rate out of the nation's 20 biggest metropolitan regions last month.