Although August home sales in the San Francisco Bay Area were only slightly lower than a year ago, the region’s median home price plunged to lows not seen since January 2004, real estate information service DataQuick reported Thursday.

The nine-county region saw a total of 7,232 new and resale houses and condos sold last month, down 4.7 percent from 7,586 in July but just 0.9 percent lower than the 7,299 sales a year ago. An "average" August sees just over 10,000 sales.

Although August home sales in the San Francisco Bay Area were only slightly lower than a year ago, the region’s median home price plunged to lows not seen since January 2004, real estate information service DataQuick reported Thursday.

The nine-county region saw a total of 7,232 new and resale houses and condos sold last month, down 4.7 percent from 7,586 in July but just 0.9 percent lower than the 7,299 sales a year ago. An "average" August sees just over 10,000 sales.

In the last 12 months, the median price tumbled a record 31.8 percent, from $655,000 to $447,000. July’s median stood 4.9 percent higher at $470,000.

By county, the greatest declines in prices were seen in Contra Costa (down 42.1 percent to $330,000); Solano (down 35.7 percent to $270,000); and Sonoma (off 30.7 percent to $350,000). Prices fell the least (-11.8 percent) in San Francisco, down to $725,000 from $822,000.

The use of so-called jumbo mortgages, until recently defined as over $417,000, has plummeted since the credit crunch hit in August 2007, making jumbo loans more expensive and harder to obtain. Last month mortgages over $417,000 made up 32.3 percent of all home purchase loans, down from 58.6 percent in August 2007, DataQuick reported.

August home sales jumped in Contra Costa and Solano counties as bargain hunters scooped up distressed properties at prices not seen in more than five years. Across the Bay Area, foreclosure resales made up 36.1 percent of all resales last month, up from 33.3 percent in July and 4.4 percent a year ago. The figure represents the percentage of homes resold in August that had been foreclosed on at some point in the prior 12 months.

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