Despite an overall slowing, sales trends differed sharply in local Southern California markets last month as Orange County experienced its weakest August in eight years and the Inland Empire experienced its strongest August ever, according to real estate information service DataQuick.

A total of 31,131 homes were sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties in August, down 5.6 percent from July’s 32,988 and down 9.6 percent from a near-record 34,437 for August last year, DataQuick reported.

Home sales in Orange County dropped 32 percent in August from the same month last year, registering 3,745 sales compared to 5,511 a year ago. The median price of a home climbed approximately 25 percent during the same period from $435,000 to $543,000.

Sales in the Inland Empire, which includes Riverside and San Bernardino counties, totaled 9,898 during August, up an average 5.4 percent from the same month last year. Median home prices in Riverside and San Bernardino climbed nearly 30 percent during the last 12 months, reaching $334,000 and $261,000, respectively, last month.

“Within this medley of statistical trends, a couple of things are still clear. Many buyers in move-up and prestige areas are getting skittish, while buyers in more affordable areas are still quite active. And while prices overall are still going up, they’re not going up as fast as they were earlier this year,” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

The median price paid for a Southern California home was $407,000 last month, another record. That was up 1.2 percent from $402,000 in July, and up 20.4 percent from $338,000 for August 2003. The year-over-year price increase was the lowest so far this year.

DataQuick, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.

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