Investors pushed home sales in Southern California higher in December, lifting 14% from November, DataQuick said Tuesday. The La Jolla, Calif.-based real estate research firm said a total of 19,247 new and resale homes and condos sold in the Southern California area last month, up from 16,884 in November. Demand grew for homes priced under $300,000. The fact that more lower-cost homes were sold during the period pushed the median Southern California sales price down to $270,000, compared to $275,000 a month earlier. When compared to the median price of $505,000 in mid-2007, the median home value in the area fell 46.5%. "Last year ended much the way it began, with pitifully low new-home sales, record investor activity, drum-tight credit, and lots of potential buyers and sellers just sitting tight," said John Walsh, DataQuick's president. "Some of the economic vital signs have improved lately and it’s sparked a renewed sense of optimism in housing circles." The number of homes that sold for less than $200,000 rose 5.9% from a year earlier, while the number of transactions in the $300,000 to $800,000-price range dropped 10.7%. Sales above $800,000 dropped 21.2%. Foreclosure resales represented 32.5% of the December home sales in Southern California, up from 31.6% in November and down from 35.1% a year earlier. Short sales made up 20% of the area's resales in December. Write to Kerri Panchuk.