LOS ANGELES - Southern California home prices declined in August from their year-ago levels for a sixth consecutive month as sales of low-priced properties continued to dominate the market, a tracking firm said Wednesday.

San Diego-based DataQuick said the median home price of $279,000 for the six-county region fell 3.1 percent from $288,000 in August 2010 and dropped 1.4 percent from $283,000 in July. DataQuick said 19,654 homes sold last month, an increase of 6 percent from 18,541 in August 2010 and 8.6 percent from 18,090 in July. The firm said that the increases are at least partly due to the relatively high number of business days last month. The number of homes sold per day in August fell 6 percent from the month-ago average and rose less than 1 percent from a year ago.

Although home sales are sluggish overall, sales of homes in the under-$300,000 segment rose 10.2 percent in August from a year earlier, the firm noted.

DataQuick said more than half of last month's home sales came from troubled owners who were financially compelled to relinquish their properties.