Southern California's housing market recovery gained momentum in November, with sales hitting the highest level for the month in six years and the median price increasing by double digits for the fourth consecutive month, a market tracker said Wednesday.

The report from La Jolla-based DataQuick showed a new trend taking hold, too, with the price increase being driven by a shift toward fewer foreclosure resales and more sales of mid- to high-end properties.

"The market gradually stabilized over the past 18 months. People's attitudes started to change and they are buying right now to take advantage of the lowest rates in decades," said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage.

Last month sales of new and previously owned houses and condominiums across the six-county region increased 14.2 percent to 19,285 from 16,884 a year earlier, DataQuick said.

The median price increased 16.7 percent to $312,000 from $275,000 a year earlier.

About half of the increase resulted from lower sales of foreclosed properties and the balance from sales of more expensive homes, LePage said.

Sales did fall 8.5 percent from 21,075 in October. The month-to-month decline is normal for this time of year.

The November sales count was the highest for the month since 23,005 sales in November 2006.

DataQuick's report showed that between November 2011 and last month:

• The median price in Los Angeles County increased 13.6 percent to $350,000 from $308,000. Sales increased 13.3 percent to 6,637 properties from 5,859 properties.

• The median price in San Bernardino County increased 17.7 percent to $183,000 from $155,500. But sales fell 3.1 percent to 2,304 properties from 2,378. It was the only decline in the region.

• The median price in Riverside County increased 17.4 percent to $229,000 from $195,000. Sales rose 10.2 percent to 3,274 from 2,971.

• In Ventura County, the median price increased 5.9 percent to $370,000 from $349,550. Sales rose 31.2 percent to 820 from 625.

It all adds up to a good sign and a market in recovery mode, said Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist at the Kyser Center for Economic Research in Los Angeles.

"We are closing out the transition year in this cycle session on an up note with the indication that we are headed in the right direction," he said. "We would probably see more sales in the L.A. County market if there were more supply."

One sales driver is mortgage rates that have settled at or near historic lows.

"The government's offered people an amazing gift in the form of extraordinarily low mortgage rates," DataQuick president John Walsh said in a statement.

Indicators of market distress continue to move in different directions.

Foreclosure activity, while above long-term averages, continues to drop and is far below peak levels. Financing with multiple mortgages is very low, and down payment sizes are stable, DataQuick reported.

greg.wilcox@dailynews.com

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