There has been a spike in the volume of home sales, especially in areas such as Coachella which has experienced a high rate of bank owned and short sales. Typically, the source of sales numbers is disclosed somewhere with the data, usually in fine print and not very noticeable. The two most common sources are the area Mulitple Listing Service (Desert Area MLS covers Coachella) or an outside company, DataQuick, which uses their own formula.
I have never seen foreclosures listed as a sale, only after it is sold as REO.
You are absolutely correct that high foreclosure regions like Riverside County are experiencing increased sales. Here is an article excerpted from a recent California Desert Assoc of Realtors article:
Median price fell 40.3% and sales increased 43.4% compared to the same time a year ago for California statewide. Locally, median price fell 36.7 % & sales rose by 41.6 % from a year ago. The rise in sales also accounts for the drop in overall inventory â€“ the August inventory is the lowest since September 2006. January 08 sales rate & inventory yielded 22.4 months of unsold inventory. August 08 sales & inventory stands at 13.1 months of unsold inventory.
"Sales improved significantly in July 2008 and remained above the 400,000 level for the third consecutive month," said C.A.R. President William E. Brown. "Deeply-discounted, distressed sales continue to drive volume in many regions of the state. July also was the first full month during which the effects of higher $729,000 conforming loan limits likely had an impact on closed sales.
"Year-to-year increases in the number of transactions ranged from a 6.7 percent increase in the San Francisco Bay Area to a 176.5 percent increase in the Riverside/San Bernardino region," he said. "In general, greater percentage gains occurred in lower-priced areas that had been most adversely affected by the market downturn since late 2005 and that are concurrently experiencing the biggest declines in prices."
In the desert market sales continue to improve and inventory continues to decline. When sales rise faster than prices fall it could indicate that buyers are taking advantage of this market window with urgency, and that window could be narrowing more quickly than earlier projections.
Let me know if I can help with any other information,