The median price for a home in San Bernardino County increased 26.7 percent in March to $190,000 from $150,000 a year earlier. That's the highest median price since October 2008 when it was $200,000. Sales fell 4.2 percent to 2,406 from 2,512.
San Bernardino County's median price rise kept pace with Southern California overall.
Southland home prices hit their highest level in nearly five years during March as the impact of foreclosures continued to dim and sales of higher priced homes gained momentum, a market tracker said Wednesday.
Last month the median price of a new or previously owned house or condominium in Southern California increased 23.4 percent to $345,500 from $280,000 a year earlier, according to La Jolla-based DataQuick.
That's the highest price since $348,000 in July of 2008.
It is further evidence that the residential real estate market is moving farther away from the Great Recession.
"The median price we saw in March is about where it was at the onset of the financial crisis in 2008," said Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist at the Kyser Center for Economic Research in Los Angeles.
"It's consistent with the pattern we've seen for the past several months and it is consistent with the trend of a market on the mend both locally and nationally. "
Last month 20,581 homes sold across the region, up 3.1 percent from 19,953 a year earlier, DataQuick said. Sales increased 29.1 percent from 15,945 sales in February.
A month-to-month increase is typical for this time of year with the gain averaging 36.4 percent since DataQuick's statistics began in 1998.
March's total is the highest for the month since 21,856 sales in March 2007.
DataQuick's report showed that Los Angeles County's median home price increased 24.2 percent to $380,000 from $306,000 a year earlier. March's median was the highest since $380,000 in August 2008. Sales increased 2.8 percent to 6,962 transactions from 6,772 in March 2012.
In Riverside County the median price rose 22.5 percent to $245,000 from $200,000. That's the highest since a $247,450 median in August 2008. Sales fell 6 percent to 3,532 from 3,756.
"It's remarkable how much the housing scene has changed in a year. At this point in 2012 there were still plenty of folks sitting on the market's sidelines, waiting to be sure the recovery was real," DataQuick President John Walsh said in a statement.
"We're seeing the release of a lot of pent-up demand, especially in the middle and higher-priced neighborhoods where activity had been sluggish for years. "
For example, last month sales continued to surge in move-up markets.
The number of homes sold in March for between $300,000 and $800,000 - a range that would include many move-up buyers - rose 29.5 percent year-over-year. The number of homes sold for $500,000 or more jumped 40.2 percent and sales of $800,000-plus homes increased 33.4 percent.
During March foreclosure resales accounted for 13.9 percent of the sales in Southern California, down from 16.2 percent in February and 31.5 percent a year earlier.
Last month, the foreclosure share was the lowest since 13.6 percent in September 2007. During the Great Recession the foreclosure sales share peaked at 56.7 percent in February 2009.
Short sales - transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property - accounted for a 21.5 percent share, down from 22.3 percent in February and 24.6 percent a year earlier.
Cash buyers accounted for 34.1 percent of March's sales, down from a record 36.9 percent in February but up from 32.4 percent a year earlier.
"The pendulum is swinging back toward normalcy. It's the first normal report of the year," said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage.
"Winter tends to be strange because it's a small group of people shopping for a home and signing on the dotted line. "