RIVERSIDE -

The median price of a home in Riverside County jumped by 21.2 percent in December, compared with the same month a year ago, while the number of homes sold dipped by 5.5 percent, a real estate information service has announced.

According to DataQuick, the median price of a Riverside County home was $280,000 last month, up from $231,000 in December 2012. A total of 3,068 homes were sold in the county, down from 3,248 during the same month the previous year.

A total of 18,415 new and resale houses and condos changed hands in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month, according to DataQuick. That was up 6.5 percent from 17,283 in November
and down 9.2 percent from 20,274 in December 2012.

The median price for a Southern California home was $395,000 in December, up 2.6 percent from $385,000 in November and up 22.3 percent from $323,000 in December 2012.

Last month's median price was the highest since February 2008, when the median was $408,000, according to DataQuick.

"Sales have fallen short of the same period a year earlier for three consecutive months now, and the pitifully low inventory is the main culprit,'' according to DataQuick President John Walsh.

"The jump in home values over the last year suggests we'll eventually see a lot more people interested in selling their homes, which would help ease the inventory crunch. More supply would put downward pressure on prices, as would rising mortgage rates.''