Phoenix-area home sales fell nearly 18% in January from December figures, but rose 3.2% from year ago levels, according to a new report from San Diego-based DataQuick

The data firm said home sales for January rose to their highest level in five years.

The report, which covers home sales in the combined Maricopa-Pinal counties metro area, reported 7,123 new and resale home sales in January, down from 8,672 sales in December 2011 but up from 6,902 January a year ago. 

The research firm said its normal for sales to fall between December and January, with the average month-to-month decline for that period hitting 21.7% since 1994. 

The sale of newly built homes in January rose 31.3% year-over-year, reaching its highest level in three years, DataQuick said. 

Still, new home sales are still 66% below the average sales figures generally recorded for the month of January.

The number of homes that sold for less than $100,000 fell 7.3% from last year, while sales on homes valued in the $100,000-to-$200,000 price-range increased 3.3%. 

Transactions in the $200,000-to-$600,000 price range increased 9% from last year while sales above $800,000 grew 3.6%. 

The median sales price for a resale, single-family home hit $125,900 in January, up a slight 0.7% from December and up 5% over January 2011. The median $78,500 resale price for condos slipped from December, but rose 9% from January 2011 figures. 

Buyers who paid cash represented 45% of all January sales, up from 41% in December, but down from 46% in January 2011.