San Diego’s median housing price increased to $359,000 in February, up 17.7 percent over the median in February of 2012, according to the most recent report from Dataquick, the La Jolla based real estate research firm.

For the entire six-county Southern California region the median price in February rose 21 percent to $320,000. The biggest increase in price was in Riverside, where the median was up 22 percent.

Total house sales in San Diego increased 2.6 percent to 2,779. For the entire region, home sales were up 1 percent to 15,945. That was down from January’s total sales of 16,058, but up 1 percent from February 2012’s sales number.

February sales were the largest for the month since February 2007 when nearly 18,000 homes changed hands.

Dataquick said the first two months of buying activity usually isn’t a good predictor of how the market will fare the rest of the year. One of the key indicators Dataquick is seeking to decipher in March and April is how many homes go on the market.

“More people who’ve long been thinking of selling will be tempted to list their homes at today’s higher prices,” said John Walsh, Dataquick’s president. “A meaningful rise in the supply of homes on the market should at least tame price appreciation.”

Investor and cash buyers continue to dominate the region, with absentee buyers accounting for 31 percent of the sales in February, up from 30 percent a year earlier, the report said.

Buyers paying in cash made up 35.6 percent of the total sales last month, compared with 34 percent in both January and in February 2012.

— SDBJ Staff Report