The number of homes sold in the Bay Area rose for the seventh month in a row in March, the result of continued bargain hunting in the East Bay and other foreclosure-discounted communities. The past year's steep drop in the median price slowed significantly, indicating that the market might be near its price bottom, a real estate information service reported. A total of 6,325 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the nine-county Bay Area last month. That was up 25.7% from 5,032 in February and up 29.1% from 4,898 in March 2008, MDA DataQuick. The San Diego firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records. Last year's March was the slowest in DataQuick's statistics, which go back to 1988. Last month was the third-slowest March of all time, ahead of last year and 6,210 sales in March 1995. March sales have averaged 9,025 and peaked in March 2004 at 12,645 sales. "More than any other region, the Bay Area is waiting for so-called jumbo loans to come back on line. Even with prices off their peaks, most home purchases in the upper half of the market still require a mortgage for more than $417,000, which are far more difficult to come by. We think there's a good chance those larger loans will become more available during the second or third quarter," said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president. "For now, the extent to which prices have fallen in the upscale markets is more difficult to gauge," he added, "because many of those areas are essentially in hibernation, with scant sales."