From the U-T, noting areas where the median price went up or down:

San Diego software engineer Paul Xu and his wife, Yaling, are expecting in December, so they’re scouting for something newer and bigger than their circa-1990s home in Mira Mesa to fit a growing family and Xu’s parents.

“We need more bedrooms,” said Xu, 36, as he walked through model homes starting in the $600,000s on a recent Sunday with his father, Min, and two family friends. “We’re also looking for good school districts … and good neighbors.”

The first area that came to Xu’s mind was Carmel Valley, a North County coastal community that draws both high-paid tech workers and move-up buyers, especially families, with its community playgrounds, block parties and environmentally friendly homes. It’s also among the few areas in San Diego County where housing prices have risen, remained relatively stable or declined slightly this year, shows a Union-Tribune analysis of sales and prices that compares half-year numbers in 2011, from January to June, to the same period in 2010.

Looking at the whole county and all housing types, sales fell 8.4 percent, from 19,099 to 17,490, while the median price dipped in 63 of 93 ZIP codes, with regional drops from 1.8 to 7.7 percent. One thing to keep in mind: 2011’s first half is being pitted against the first half of 2010, when homebuyer tax credits drove sales.

Still, among the areas that bucked the trend of declines during this year’s first half were north coastal areas such as Carmel Valley, where the median price for a single family home rose to $950,000, or 5.9 percent from 2010’s first half. The area’s new home sales also increased, from 76 to 86, or 13.2 percent.

“It’s a good community and it’s close to the coast,” said Ashish Sagar, a 43-year-old software engineer who browsed new homes at a Pardee development in Carmel Valley on a recent weekend. “I’ve been renting forever … This will be an investment.”

Other coastal areas where single-family resales, the bulk of total transactions, were up included southwest Carlsbad and Del Mar.

Hot sale zones also were detected in the East County submarket. There, sales increased as first-time buyers and investors were lured to the area’s lower-priced distressed properties. Price changes were mixed, depending on the area and housing type.

A standout was Jamul, where the median price for a single-family resale home shot up 15.2 percent, rising from $375,000 last year to $432,000 this year, based on about the same number of sales during both time periods. Certain areas of El Cajon, specifically 92019 and 92120, also saw increases or stabilization in single-family resale prices. In some neighborhoods, such as Spring Valley and Santee, single-family home resales increased but sale prices were down, 8.6 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively — a likely indicator of distressed sales.

Dave Zimkin, a real estate broker in La Mesa, said sales in East County have been “slow and steady” as a large number of transactions in the area are short sales, which take longer to vet and close.

What drew 26-year-old Shelby Williams and her husband, Garrett, to buy a home in Los Coches, an area near Lakeside?

“We were in Mission Valley when we were getting married,” said Williams, a corporate event planner. “Now, we’re wanting to start a family and be on a bit more land … We’d sure love to be in Del Mar and Carmel Mountain, but that was tough to do even with two incomes, so East County met all our criteria.”

It was also the right price. They paid $325,000 for their 1,500-square-foot home, on 6,000 square feet of land.

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