Investor and cash buying was at or near all-time highs, DataQuick said.
Absentee buyers — mostly investors and some second-home purchasers — bought a record 31.4 percent of the Southern California homes sold in February.
More mid- to high-end homes — those going for between $300,000 and $800,000 — were sold in February compared with a year earlier, while lower-cost homes lagged, partly because a slowdown in foreclosures meant fewer homes for sale, DataQuick said.
There were some good signs.
"Foreclosure activity remains far below peak levels. Financing with multiple mortgages is very low and down payment sizes are stable," DataQuick said.