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Southland home sales stayed above year-ago levels for the eighth consecutive month in February as the median price halted its month-to-month decline for the first time in ten months. Market activity was dominated by bargain-hunting in affordable neighborhoods while buying and selling in more expensive established areas remained largely on hold, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 15,231 new and resale homes sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was essentially unchanged from 15,227 for January, and up 41.3% from 10,777 for February 2008, according to MDA DataQuick. The San Diego firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.MDA DataQuick of San Diego.

Sales have increased on a year-to-year basis since last July. February a year ago was the slowest February in DataQuick's statistics, which go back to 1988. The February average is 18,120.

"The market is so tilted away from normal mainstream activity that it's impossible to generalize or predict based on the atypical patterns we're seeing. That means that normal demand and supply is building up. The floodgates could open once mortgage credit starts to open up," said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president.

Regionwide, foreclosure resales accounted for 56.4% of February's resales activity, which was the same as the revised January figure and up from 36.2% in February 2008.

The median price paid for a Southland home was $250,000 last month, the same as in January. That was down 38.7% from $408,000 for February a year ago. The median peaked at $505,000 in mid 2007.