SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP)- Northern California has posted its strongest home sales for January in six years but researchers say the market’s still far from normal.

The San Diego-based firm DataQuick reported Thursday that about 5,500 homes were sold in the San Francisco Bay area last month, up more than 3 percent from January 2012.

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The median price for a home in the nine-county region was $415,000. That was up more than 27 percent from the price a year earlier.

There were fewer sales of foreclosed homes and short sales, where the price was less than what was owed on the home. Sales also shifted away from low-cost homes to mid-market and move-up homes.

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However, DataQuick President John Walsh says the mortgage market is still dysfunctional and it’s only slowly moving toward normalcy.

Related: Full report and county-by-county breakdown 

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