By Alejandro Lazo, Los Angeles Times
November 14, 2012

Southern California’s real estate market bucked the typical fall slowdown last month, with buyers snapping up pricier homes and sales roaring up 18% over the prior month.

Sales hit a three-year high for an October, rising 25% from the same month last year. The median sale price for a Southland house last month was $315,000, equal to September and up 17% from October 2011, according to real estate research firm DataQuick.

A decline in the number of foreclosed homes has caused a shortage of inventory in entry-level neighborhoods, pushing up home prices. Demand from investors also remains strong, with these buyers snapping up a near-record level of homes last month.

“There is a growing appreciation of the fact that we’ve come to a sort of a point of inflection in the housing market,” Stuart Gabriel, director of UCLA’s Ziman Center for Real Estate, said. “The housing market, for a large number of factors, is perceived as having turned a corner.”

The region’s median hit bottom at $247,000 in April 2009 and has slowly crawled its way up since. The median is the point at which half the homes in the area sold for more and half for less.

The rebound stems from more people chasing fewer homes. Interest rates remain near record-low levels, luring buyers. Investors with cash have poured into the market looking for cheap properties to flip or rent. And foreclosure resales have sunk to a five-year low, tightening the supply of cheap homes.

An estimated 21,075 newly built and previously owned houses and condominiums sold throughout the region last month. Coastal markets saw the biggest increases in sales — though every county posted double-digit gains compared with October last year. Orange County saw the biggest surge, with sales up 41%. Ventura rose 35%, San Diego, 31%, Los Angeles, 25%, San Bernardino, 18% and Riverside 13%.

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