LA JOLLA, Calif. Home sales in the San Francisco Bay Area continued strong last month, surprising many analysts who thought higher mortgage interest rates would bring purchase levels down, a real estate information service reported.

This is good news for lenders. California has been the softest spot in home loans nationwide and a rebound could give a big lift to the state's mortgage onginations.

A total of 4,513 houses were resold in the nine-county area last month. down 9.1% from 4.964 in August and up 1.1% from 4,463 for September a year ago, Dataquick Information Systems reported.

The seasonal dip from August to September is normal for this time of year.

So far this year. sales have increased year-over-year every month except July.

Year-to-date a total of 44,570 resale houses have been sold, 14.2% more than 39,043 for the same period last year.

"Prices have been coming back up, and the perception is that interest rates probably won't get any lower in the near future. So there's really no incentive for prospective buyers to wait around if they're going to buy anyway," said Donald L. Cohn, Dataquick's chief executive.

With a median of $232,000, Bay Area prices last month were up 1.3% from a median of $229,000 for both August 1994 and September 1993.

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