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Southern California home price gains slow in April

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Southern California home prices increased at a slower pace in April as inventories improved and investor purchases waned, a research firm said Tuesday. Sales fell but less dramatically than in previous months.

The median sales price for new and existing single-family homes and condominiums was $404,000, up 1 percent from $400,000 in March and 13.2 percent from $357,000 in April 2013, DataQuick said. It was the 25th straight month that the median sales price rose from a year earlier but the lowest annual percentage increase since September 2012.

There were 20,008 homes sold in the six-county region, down 6.6 percent from 21,415 a year earlier. Still, it was a higher April sales tally than 2011 or 2012 and it was a rebound from February and March, when sales hit six-year lows for those months.

"The housing market's pulse quickened a bit in April. If the inventory grows more, which we consider likely, it's going to make it a lot easier for sales to reach at least an average level, which we haven't seen in more than seven years," said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage.

There was a 4.2-month supply of single-family homes for sale in the Los Angeles metropolitan area in March, up from a 2.9-month supply a year earlier, according to the most recent figures from the California Association of Realtors.

Absentee buyers, mostly investors, bought 26.1 percent of Southern California homes sold last month, down from 30.6 percent a year earlier and the lowest share since November 2011, DataQuick said. Absentee buyer purchases peaked at 32.4 percent in January 2013.

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