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The total number of existing homes under contract to be sold rose last month as compared to January, but sales numbers still lag behind 2012 averages, according to a new report from the industry trade group California Association of Realtors, released yesterday (March 25).

Last month, both sales and median prices cratered, as many wealthy individuals rushed to close transactions before the end of 2012 when higher capital gains tax rates kicked in for individuals profiting more than $250,000 or couples gaining over $500,000 on the sale of a home. At the time, independent analysts and industry shills alike blamed the sales decrease on banks withholding foreclosures from the market.

After the values blip, however, prices are once again on the rise, leading many to believe that the market is entering another inflationary bubble.

The upshot from rising prices: more homeowners are now able to avoid short sales. The Association reports that sales involving sellers with positive equity (though including a high number of “flippers” who bought foreclosures cheap and are now turning them after a quick cosmetic remodel) now make up more than two-thirds of the market, up from less than half a year ago. Short sales now make up less than 20% of the total market, down from nearly 25% a year ago, and in San Diego that shift is even more dramatic, with the percentage of the short sale market falling to 15% from 29% in February 2012.

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