SAN DIEGO (AP) — The median price of a home in California approached a four-year high in July as buyers snapped up more expensive properties and foreclosed houses made up a smaller part of the sales mix, a research firm said Wednesday.
The median price for new and existing houses and condominiums in the state reached $281,000 last month, up 11.5 percent from $252,000 in July 2011, DataQuick said. It was the highest median price since hitting $283,000 in September 2008 and the fifth straight month of annual gains, but still far below a peak of $484,000 in early 2007.
Sales rose 13.9 percent from last year to 39,507 homes.
Properties that were foreclosed upon in the previous year accounted for 22 percent of existing-home sales, down from 34.5 percent a year earlier and 58.5 percent in February 2009. Foreclosed homes tend to sell at steep discounts, dragging down the median price.
The median sale price in the nine-county San Francisco Bay area was $421,000 in July, up 12.6 percent from $374,000 a year earlier, DataQuick said. It was the Bay area's highest median price since hitting $447,000 in August 2008 and the 13th straight month of annual gains.
Bay area sales surged 22.9 percent from last year to 8,461 homes as buyers showed more interest in higher-end homes. Nearly 42 percent of sales were for at least $500,000, compared with less than 37 percent a year earlier.
"The (Bay Area) market has really been lopsided the past couple of years, tilted toward low-end bargain-chasing. Now it's rebalancing, slowly, with increased activity in mid- and move-up markets," said DataQuick President John Walsh.
Homes that had been foreclosed upon in the previous year accounted for only 15.7 percent of existing-home sales in the Bay Area last month, down from 25.9 percent a year earlier and the lowest level since December 2007, DataQuick said.
The Bay Area numbers mirrored trends in Southern California. DataQuick reported Tuesday that the median price for new and existing houses and condominiums in Southern California reached $306,000 in July, up 8.1 percent from $283,000 the same period last year. It was the fourth straight month of annual gains in the six-county region and the highest level since $308,500 in September 2008.
Sales in Southern California jumped to 20,588 homes, up 13.8 percent from 18,090 homes last year, DataQuick said. It was the seventh straight month that sales climbed from a year earlier.
Homes that were foreclosed upon in the previous year accounted for 21 percent of existing-home sales in Southern California last month, down from 32.6 percent a year earlier.
Home foreclosure activity in California has fallen to five-year lows, easing concerns there might be a flood of distressed sales to slow or even reverse the housing market's recovery.
The Mortgage Bankers Association reported another dose of news last week that suggested a wave of foreclosures was less likely. It said 6.38 percent of California home loans were at least one payment behind during the second quarter, down from 8.12 percent a year earlier.