California median home price highest in nearly 4 years

A "sold" sign is seen outside a home in Los Angeles.
(Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

The median home price in California rose to a nearly four-year high in July as more expensive homes sold and fewer foreclosures were purchased in the key Southern California and San Francisco Bay Area markets.

The Golden State’s median home price rose to $281,000, up 2.6% from June and up 11.5% from July 2011, real estate firm DataQuick reported. It was the fifth consecutive month in which the median has risen year over year and the highest reading for any month since September 2008.

Sales were down 3.7% from June, part of a normal seasonal decline. Sales were up 13.9% from the same month last year, as 39,507 newly built houses and condominiums sold statewide last month.

Sales of so-called distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales, in which the lender allows a property to be sold for less than what is owed — accounted for 41% of the market last month, down from 43% in June and 51.8% in July 2011.

In the Southland, the region’s median home price hit $306,000, a 2% increase from June and up 8.1% from July 2011. Sales fell 6.7% from June but were up 13.8% from July 2011. A total of 20,588 newly built and previously owned houses and condos sold in the six-county region.

In the Bay Area, the median home price reached $421,000 last month, up 1% from June and up 12.6% from July 2011. Sales fell 1.4% from the previous month but were up 22.9% from a year earlier. A total of 8,461 homes sold in the nine-county Bay Area.