San Diego County far exceeded the state in home sales increases in January, according to locally based DataQuick.

The state saw a 2.7 percent increase from year-ago levels to 28,871 transactions, while San Diego rose 15.2 percent to 2,717.

The state was held back by slow growth in Northern California’s nine counties, which rose only 3.2 percent year-over-year. Southern California’s six counties were up 10.6 percent.

Like San Diego homes, sales declined statewide from December to January in a usual seasonal downturn, DataQuick said. The month-to-month drop was 27.4 percent statewide and 21.7 percent in San Diego, as previously reported.

On prices San Diego lagged the state. It was up 14.8 percent to $350,000 from January 2012, while the state median rose 22.9 percent to $290,000, propelled by a 27.3 percent increase in Northern California to $415,000.

The usual December-January price decline was $9,000 or 3 percent statewide and $16,000 or 4.4 percent in San Diego.

SD County Housing Dominated By Investor Buyinghome for sale

Absentee home buying by investors peaked in San Diego County at 31.3 percent in January, DataQuick reports.

The figure compares with 29.8 percent in December and 28.9 percent in January 2012. Absentee buying for resale condos was 41 percent and resale houses, 27.3 percent.

DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage said the spike occurred at this time of the year because noninvestor purchases typically lag during the holidays.

Absentee buying, particularly by investors, has been growing in recent years as prices fell and there were good bargains to be had in the condo and move-up market.

“There are still a lot of people that see significant upside in the market and are parking their cash in real estate,” LePage said, since banks pay very low interest on deposits and stocks are volatile.

Another indicator of investor interest is found in the percentage of homes purchased without a mortgage. These all-cash buyers accounted for 33.8 percent of all purchases in January, just a 10th of a percentage point below the record set in December.

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This is filed under National Markets.

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