The median price of an existing home in California increased 10.2 percent in April while sales decreased 21.4 percent compared to the same period a year ago, the California Association of Realtors reported Thursday.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled 516,960 in April at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, down from the 658,060 sales pace recorded in April 2005.

The statewide sales figure represents what the total number of homes sold during 2006 would be if sales maintained the April pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

“Sales fell this year compared with April 2005 when they hit the second-highest monthly pace on record. Concerns about the likelihood of future interest-rate increases continue to influence the market,” said C.A.R. President Vince Malta. “While still near their historic lows, mortgage interest rates are at their highest level since June 2002 for fixed-rate mortgages, and August 2001 for adjustable-rate mortgages.”

The median price of an existing, single-family detached home in California during April 2006 was $562,380, a 10.2 percent increase over the revised $510,400 median for April 2005, C.A.R. reported. The April 2006 median price increased was essentially unchanged compared with March’s revised $562,630 median price.

“At 10.2 percent in April, we’re seeing price appreciation trend toward a more sustainable rate for the California housing market,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “Increased inventory levels are moderating the rate of price appreciation, but are still below what we experience in a more traditional market when the long-term supply of unsold inventory is about 7 months.”

C.A.R. also reported:

  • C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in April 2006 was 5.6 months, compared with 2.4 months (revised) 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 6.51 percent during April 2006, compared with 5.86 percent in April 2005, according to Freddie Mac. Adjustable mortgage interest rates averaged 5.62 percent in April 2006 compared with 4.25 percent in April 2005.

  • The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 42 days in April 2006, compared with 28 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.

  • Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the highest median home prices in California during April 2006 were: Manhattan Beach, $1,685,000; Burlingame, $1,600,000; Los Altos, $1,557,500; Newport Beach, $1,445,000; Saratoga, $1,407,500; Santa Barbara, $1,250,000; Lafayette, $1,112,500; Mill Valley, $1,068,750; Santa Monica, $1,020,000; and Danville, $1,019,500.

  • Statewide, the 10 cities and communities with the greatest median home-price increases in April 2006 compared with the same period a year ago were: Barstow, 60.9 percent; Delano, 56.3 percent; Taft, 53.8 percent; Lake Forest, 44.7 percent; Merced, 38.5 percent; Ridgecrest, 37.1 percent; Inglewood, 33.5 percent; California City, 32.7 percent; Indio, 30.4 percent; Banning, 30.4 percent; and Burlingame, 30.1 percent.

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