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California home sales rise in August, but prices dip

September 16, 2011 |  2:05 pm

Home sales in California jumped in August
Home sales in California jumped in August, but that was mostly due to a quirk in the calendar, with more business days than usual for the month. The state's median home price dropped year-over-year for the 11th consecutive month.

Sales of so-called distressed properties -– homes where the borrower was either in default or where the property was a foreclosure -- continued to make up more than half of California's market for previously owned homes, according to a report by the real estate information firm DataQuick of San Diego.

Sales statewide were up 8.8% in August over July and 10.2% from the same month a year earlier. A total of 34,239 properties in the Golden State sold last month, with Southern California accounting for 52% of those sales.

"The sliver of positive news here is that, no matter how you look at it, last month's sales beat the year-ago numbers, which were pretty lousy," DataQuick President John Walsh said in a statement. "Lower prices and mortgage rates lured some homebuyers off the sidelines last month, but too many others lacked the confidence to step into the game."

The median price, the point at which half the homes sold for less and half for more, declined 1.2% in August from July and dropped 4.2% from the same month a year earlier, to $249,000. The state’s median home price remained 12.7% above the most recent bottom, hit in April 2009.

Foreclosure properties made up 34.6% of homes sold statewide, up from 34.5% in July and down from 35.6% in August 2010. Short sales -– in which a bank allows a property to be sold for less than the outstanding debt on the property -– made up an estimated 17.8% of sales. That was up from 17.3% in July but down from 18.0% in August 2010.


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-- Alejandro Lazo