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The Seattle area continued to display more strength in home prices than most Western housing markets in February. But the relative lack of bargains in the three-county region kept sales at their slowest pace for the month in at least 15 years, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 1,899 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in February in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan statistical area encompassing King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. Last month's sales rose 12.1% from January but fell 42.0% from a year earlier, according to MDA DataQuick. The San Diego firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.

Last month's sales total was the lowest for any February since at least 1994, when DataQuick's complete Seattle-area statistics begin. Sales have fallen on a year-over-year basis for 33 consecutive months.

Unlike many markets in the West, Seattle hasn't been dominated by foreclosures. In February, about 21.9% of the Seattle-area homes that resold had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months. In Las Vegas, Phoenix and much of California, such foreclosure resales make up half or more of all resale activity.

The median price paid for all homes combined in February was $300,000, down 1.6% from $305,000 in January and down a record 14.3% from $350,000 a year earlier. Last month's median was 17.9% lower than the Seattle area's peak $365,200 median in June 2007 and was the lowest median for any month since it was also $300,000 in October 2005.