This year will be one of the best on record for the California real estate market, the state's Realtors association reported.

Distressed-asset sales are down, median home prices and stored equity rising up, according to the California Association of Realtors.

"Homes are selling faster and at a smaller discount than at any other time since the 1980s," said Tim Corliss, president of the association.

A typical sale this year has involved only four weeks on the market, according to the group's 1998 California Housing Finance Survey. That is less time than in any full year since 1989. Last year the average wait was eight weeks.

Fifteen percent of California homes have sold for more than their asking price so far this year, up from 8.5% in 1997, the study found. The median price was $205,000, up 7.9%.

The median price discount, the difference between the asking price and the selling price, was the lowest on record: 1.6%, down from 3.5%.

Distressed sales, those that arise from foreclosure proceedings, have also declined - a signal that homeowners can pay their mortgages.

Such sales have made up only 8.3% of all home sales so far this year, down from 13.2% in 1997 and 19.3% in 1995.

The median mortgage interest rate fell to 7.25%, from 8%.

"The underlying dynamics of the California housing market are extremely strong and have improved, even compared to 1997," said Leslie Appleton- Young, the Realtors' chief economist. "The strength of the market is fostering the return and growth of home equity."

Buyers are more often choosing to stay nearby, the report found. About 62% of homebuyers stayed in the same county, versus 56% last year.

However, the market rebound has not reduced a steady migration from California to Las Vegas, one of the nation's hottest housing markets, Nevada real estate agents say.

In fact, transplantation from California has picked up in recent months, said Ronnie Schwartz, a broker with Coldwell Banker Premium Realty in Las Vegas.

"It's now easier to sell homes in California," Ms. Schwartz said. "Those people that had to put off (moving) for a few years now can."

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