The median-priced home in Los Angeles County fell by 2.4 percent to $463,450 in December from November, according to the California Association of Realtors.

After staying relatively flat since late summer, home prices surged in November to $474,720 in reaction to fears of looming interest rate increases on mortgages.

Though lower than the preceding month, December prices in L.A. County were 22.8 percent above the $377,500 median priced home in the prior year. Statewide, the median price was $474, 480, up 0.5 percent from November and 18.1 percent from December 2003.

C.A.R President Jim Hamilton said homebuyers remain concerned about future interest rate hikes and "flooded" the market in December, pushing sales activity up 7.8 percent from the prior month. L.A. County sales activity in December was also 1.5 percent higher than the year before.

There were other signs of a weakening housing market. Statewide, homes that sold in December were on the market for a median of 43 days, compared with 27 days a year ago, according to C.A.R. Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.

"Despite having fewer homes to chose from, buyers are becoming more selective and are taking more time before making an offer on a home," she said in a statement.
Of the 10 California cities with the highest December median home prices, six were in L.A. County.

In descending order they were Beverly Hills ($1,275,000); Manhattan Beach ($1,250,000); Palos Verdes Estates ($1,117,500); Hermosa Beach ($976,500); Calabasas ($915,000) and Rancho Palos Verdes ($900,000).

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