Los Angeles County's median home price managed a 0.2 percent gain in September but was off 8.3 percent from a year earlier, a real estate tracking firm said Tuesday.

Home sales in the county were down 0.7 percent from August but up 13.8 percent from September 2008, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego.

Los Angeles County fared slightly better than Southern California as a whole, which saw its median price hold steady last month at $275,000, although it declined 10.9 percent from $308,500 a year earlier.

Annual home sales for the six-county region were up 5.1 percent the report said. Locally, some Realtors say they are seeing an improving market with price increases.

"I've seen more homes on the market that are coming back up from the lows," said Payman Emamian, a broker with Prudential California in Pasadena. "And homes that have been on the market for a long time are finally selling. It's the lack of good inventory that has triggered it."

Emamian said prices are ticking up. And some homes are drawing multiple offers.

"A house will come on the market and another agency's client and my client will want to buy it," he said. "But when we go to place an offer there are three other offers coming in. That didn't happen six months ago."

Emamian said he hasn't seen many foreclosure properties although he's seeing an increasing number of short sale offers cropping up.

Sally Ragan, a Realtor with Tarbell

Realtors, said she's seeing price increases in the La Verne/Inland Empire area - primarily involving bank-owned properties.

"People are outbidding each other to get them," she said. "We're seeing anywhere from two to 20 offers on some homes."

Last month, 21,539 new and resale homes and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties. That was up 0.2 percent from 21,502 in August and up 5.1 percent from 20,497 a year earlier, MDA DataQuick said.

September marked the 15th month in a row with a year-over-year sales gain, although last month's was the smallest of those increases. The small uptick in September sales from August was atypical. On average, sales have fallen 9.5 percent between those two months.

"There were more than just normal, seasonal forces at work in these September sales numbers," MDA DataQuick President John Walsh said in a statement. More attempts at short sales, which typically take longer, and new appraisal rules no doubt delayed some deals this summer, causing them to close in September rather than August."

Ragan said sales will likley dip before long.

"My honest thinking is that when this $8,000 federal tax credit goes away we'll see a diminishing in sales," she said.

San Bernardino County's median home price weathered the biggest annual decline.

The county's September median price of $150,000 was up from $145,000 the previous month but down 26.8 percent from $205,000 a year earlier, MDA DataQuick reported.

kevin.smith@sgvn.com