LOS ANGELES ( DQNews) --Southern California home sales in February were above year-ago levels for the 20th month in a row as buyers continued to snap up bargain properties with government-backed mortgages and tax incentives. The median price paid for a home rose on a year-over-year basis for the third consecutive month, a real estate information service reported. A total of 15,359 new and resale homes sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was virtually unchanged from 15,361 in January, and up 0.8% from 15,231 in February 2009, according to MDA DataQuick. The San Diego firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records. The February sales average is 17,983 going back to 1988, when DataQuick's statistics begin. The sales distribution remains tilted toward lower-cost distressed homes, although not as steeply as most of last year. "It's possible the stars won't line up this way again for many years. With prices and mortgage interest rates this low, the cost of ownership is about as low as we've seen it in decades," said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick president. The median price paid for a Southland home was $275,000 last month, up 1.3% from $271,500 in January, and up 10.0% from $250,000 for February 2009. The median peaked at $505,000 in mid 2007 and appears, so far, to have bottomed out at $247,000 in April last year. The peak-to-trough drop in median was due to a decline in home values as well as a shift in sales toward lower-cost homes. "The market is less lopsided, but before a real rebalancing occurs adjustable-rate and jumbo mortgages need to come back. Not to where they were in 2007, but back to where they were a few years before that," Walsh said. While 44.8% of all Southland purchase mortgages since 2000 have been adjustable-rate (ARMs), it was 4.0% last month, down from 4.3% in January and up from 2.1% in February last year. Jumbo loans, mortgages above the old conforming limit of $417,000, accounted for 14.8% of last month's purchase lending, up from 14.2% in January and from 10.7% in February 2009. Before the credit crisis in the fall of 2007, jumbos accounted for 40% of the market.