Southern California home sales grew a slight 0.3% from a year ago in September, suggesting the market remains steady on a year-over-year basis, DataQuick said Thursday. The area recorded 18,149 new and resale home sales in the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange. That is down 7.7% from August, but up slightly from 18,091 last year. DataQuick said the drop between August and September is normal considering most families try to close on homes before the onset of the school season. "Holding steady with a year ago isn’t so bad when you consider the hits the housing market has taken in recent months, including a big psychological blow from a tanking stock market in early August," said DataQuick's President John Walsh. "Part of what’s keeping demand afloat is improved affordability thanks to ultra-low mortgage rates and lower home prices. We’ll have to wait and see what impact the lower conforming loan limits, which took effect recently, will have in some of the higher-priced markets," he added. The median price paid on Southern California homes hit $280,000, up 0.4% from $279,000 in August. The median price continues to be effected by weak new home sales as more buyers focus on affordable resale properties, DataQuick said. In terms of what is selling, DataQuick said distressed sales in the sub-$300,000 market accounted for half of the area's re-sales last month. Meanwhile, foreclosure resales made up 32.3% and short sales made up 18.5% of the resales. Write to Kerri Panchuk.