The median price of an existing home in California in August increased 20.1 percent to a record $568,890, the California Association of Realtors reported Monday.

Sales increased 7 percent compared from August 2004 to August 2005 – the second strongest August sales figure on record since 1979.

“While fixed mortgage interest rates have not increased, adjustable rates have risen in reaction to the Federal Reserve and a more general increase in short-term rates,” said Jim Hamilton, association president.

“Since more buyers are relying on adjustable-rate mortgages to finance the purchase of their homes, buyers may be moving more quickly to make the home purchase decision in anticipation of future rate increases. This is adding more pressure to the price of a home.”

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 632,240 in August at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according to information collected by from more than 90 local Realtor associations statewide. Statewide home resale activity increased 7 percent from the 591,150 sales pace recorded in August 2004, the state association also announced.

The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2005 would be if sales maintained the August pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during August 2005 was $568,890, a 20.1 percent increase over the revised $473,520 median for August 2004, according to the announcement. The August 2005 median price increased 5.2 percent compared with July’s $540,900 median price.

“Los Angeles County is on track to break the previous sales record set in 2003, while the median surged to $564,340,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, association vice president and chief economist. “For the first time since March, Orange County saw a double-digit year-to-year increase in the median price of a home, and is on track to break 2003 sales records as well.

“Sales in the San Francisco Bay Area continued to fall below last year’s pace, but remain at elevated levels that approximate the market in 2003,” she said. “The median price continued its trend of year-to-year percentage increases in the low teens.”

Some additional resale housing figures for August 2005:

– The association’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in August 2005 was 2.9 months, compared with 3.6 months for the same period a year ago. The index indicates the number of months needed to deplete the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.

– Thirty-year fixed mortgage interest rates averaged 5.82 percent during August 2005, compared with 5.87 percent in August 2004, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable mortgage interest rates averaged 4.55 percent in August 2005 compared with 4.06 percent in August 2004.

– The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 29 days in August 2005, compared with 26 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.

In a separate report covering more localized statistics generated by the association and DataQuick Information Systems, 96.8 percent or 417 of 431 cities and communities showed an increase in their respective median home prices from a year ago. DataQuick statistics are based on county records data rather than MLS information. DataQuick Information Systems is a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates.

Some highlights from this separate report:

– Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the highest median home prices in California during August 2005 were: Laguna Beach, $1,550,000; Los Altos, $1,515,250; Manhattan Beach, $1,464,500; Burlingame, $1,450,000; Palos Verdes Estates, $1,415,000; Calabasas, $1,351,500; Saratoga, $1,307,500; Newport Beach, $1,296,250; Mill Valley, $1,257,500; Rancho Palos Verdes, $1,201,500.

– Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the greatest median home price increases in August 2005 compared with the same period a year ago were: Sanger, 76 percent; West Sacramento, 67 percent; Twentynine Palms, 63 percent; San Bruno, 60 percent; Culver City, 49 percent; San Bernardino, 49 percent; California City, 48 percent; Merced, 47 percent; Visalia, 46 percent; Montebello, 45 percent.

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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