The median price of an existing home in California in August increased 16.8 percent while sales declined 8.5 percent compared to the same period a year ago, the California Association of Realtors reported today.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 591,150 in August at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local Realtor associations statewide. Statewide home resale activity decreased 8.5 percent from the 645,720 sales pace recorded in August 2003.

“We anticipated a decrease in home sales last month compared to August 2003,” said C.A.R. President Ann Pettijohn. “Last summer, mortgage interest rates were at their lowest levels in more than 30 years and monthly existing-home sales hit an annualized all-time high of nearly 646,000 units.”

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during August 2004 was $474,370, a 16.8 percent increase over the revised $406,140 median for August 2003, C.A.R. reported. The August 2004 median price increased 2.6 percent compared with a revised $462,140 median price in July.

“Residential real estate sales in California are on track to set a new annual record in 2004,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, C.A.R.’s vice president and chief economist. “Year-to-date sales are up 5.2 percent compared with the same period in 2003.”

The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 26 days in August 2004, unchanged from the same period a year ago.

Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the highest median home prices in California during August 2004 were: Beverly Hills, $1,445,000; Manhattan Beach, $1,400,000; Laguna Beach, $1,375,000; Los Altos, $1,350,000; Palos Verdes Estates, $1,325,000; Burlingame, $1,270,000; Newport Beach, $1,100,000; Saratoga, $1,062,500; Orinda, $950,000; Calabasas, $935,000.

Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the greatest median home price increases in August 2004 compared with the same period a year ago were: Hercules, 59.7 percent; Colton, 58.3 percent; Adelanto, 57.9 percent; Duarte, 56.7 percent; Inglewood, 55.1 percent; Barstow, 52.4 percent; San Gabriel, 52 percent; Huntington Park, 50.8 percent; Yucaipa, 49.5 percent; Compton, 49.4 percent.

Los Angeles-based C.A.R. is a state trade organization with more than 145,000 members.

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