updated 1/17/2008 6:08:23 PM ET 2008-01-17T23:08:23

The median price of a home in California tumbled nearly 15 percent amid a steep drop in sales in December, a real estate research firm said Thursday.

The median home price hit $402,000 last month, down 14.8 percent from $472,000 in the year-ago period, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

The state’s median home price peaked last spring at $484,000.

Meanwhile, home sales in the state, one of the hardest hit in the nation by the mortgage crisis, plummeted 41.4 percent to 25,585 compared to December 2006.

It was the lowest sales total for any December in more than 20 years, the firm said.

December home sales were essentially flat from November.

The state has seen sales decline year-over-year for 27 straight months as the once-booming housing market tanked and a credit crisis forced mortgage lenders to scale back so-called jumbo mortgages that exceed $417,000.

That’s helped skew the median home price downward because fewer jumbo loans have translated into fewer high-end homes being sold.

The percentage of homes purchased with jumbo loans last month fell nearly 70 percent from December 2006, DataQuick said.

Sales and price declines were seen throughout the state’s most-populous counties.

In a nine-county region around San Francisco Bay, sales fell to 5,065, down 39.5 percent from December 2006 and off 1.2 percent from November, the firm said.

Sales in the region that includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano and Sonoma counties have dropped year-over-year for the past 35 months.

Prior to last month, the slowest December on record was 1990, when 5,458 homes were sold. DataQuick has been tracking sales since 1988.

Meanwhile, the median price of a home in the region slipped to $587,500, a 4.9 percent drop from December 2006 and a 6.6 percent decline from November’s median, DataQuick said.

Sonoma County posted the sharpest decline, plummeting 21.9 percent to $410,000 from December 2006.

The median price in Solano County fell 15.8 percent to $370,000, while Contra Costa County saw a drop of 11.3 percent to $505,000.

The median price for a home in San Francisco County declined 1.9 percent to $731,000.

Prices in other counties dipped by single-digit percentages or stayed flat.

Earlier this week, DataQuick said the average median price in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties hit $425,000 last month, the lowest level since February 2005, when the figure was $420,000.

Home sales throughout those six counties plunged 45.3 percent to 13,240 from a year ago.

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