The median price of a home in Ventura County, Calif., topped $400,000 for the first time recently in September as buyers took advantage of low mortgage rates to bid up homes in the second-costliest county in Southern California, behind Orange County. The price of a home in Ventura County climbed 21.8 percent since July 2002. Orange County's median first exceeded $400,000 in April, and by July its median had reached $428,000.

Ventura County was the only county of the six Southern California counties to experience a drop in sales. According to DataQuick Information Systems, a real estate research firm in La Jolla, the number of homes sold in September in Ventura was 1,527, down 5.8 percent from last year. By contrast, nearby San Bernardino County sales rose 6.3 percent and San Diego County sales increased 14.6 percent. A DataQuick analyst said that the only thing holding back Ventura County was a lack of available homes to buy.

In the past eight years, median prices in the area have more than doubled.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA, Oxnard, CA.