SAN FRANCISCO ( DQNews) -- The number of Bay Area homes sold last month inched up from May but fell short of a year ago as the impact of the federal home buyer tax credits began to fade. The median sale price remained 16.5% higher than last year, thanks largely to fewer foreclosures re-selling and more high-end activity, a real estate information service reported.

Last month a total of 8,373 homes closed escrows in the nine-county Bay Area, up 1.3% from 8,264 in May but down 3.1% from 8,644 in June 2009, according to MDA DataQuick. The San Diego firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.

On average, Bay Area sales have risen 3.9% between May and June since 1988, when DataQuick's statistics begin. Last month's sales were the third-lowest for a June - behind 2008 and 2007 - since June 1995, when 7,780 sold. Last month's sales were 17.9% lower than the average June sales tally of 10,198 since 1988.

"The next few months should be very interesting: We're about to see how well the housing market can fly on its own. The tax credits no doubt stole some demand from the rest of this year, and soon we'll have a better sense of just how much," said John Walsh, MDA DataQuick President.

"The Bay Area market is getting a boost from super-low mortgage rates and a slightly friendlier lending environment for high-end borrowers," he added. "But, barring new government stimulus, the housing market will be relying very heavily on improvements in the economy. A lot will depend on how many people find jobs, or stop worrying about losing the one they have."

Last month the median paid for all new and resale houses and condos combined was $410,000, the same as in May and up 16.5% from $352,000 in June 2009.

The median has risen on a year-over-year basis for nine straight months, though in June it was still 38.3% below the $665,000 peak in June/July 2007. The post-boom low was $290,000 in March 2009. The median's peak-to-trough plunge was caused by a decline in home values as well as a huge shift in sales toward lower-cost homes, especially inland foreclosures.

Last month foreclosure resales - homes that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months - fell to 26.7% of the Bay Area's resale market. That was the lowest since April 2008 and was down from 26.8% in May and 36.7% in June 2009. Foreclosure resales peaked at 52.0% in February 2009. The monthly average for foreclosure resales over the past 15 years is 7.9%.

Last month 39.2% of all Bay Area home sales were over $500,000, down slightly from 40.2% in May but up from 34.5% last year. Sales over $800,000 rose to 17.2% of June sales, up from 15.4% in May and 13.9% a year ago. Viewed a different way, sales of existing single-family houses in zip codes representing the top one-third of the market, based on their historical prices, accounted for 35.5% of all sales in June, about the same as in May but up from 31.3% a year ago.

The portion of sales occurring at the bottom of the price ladder also increased last month. Total sales under $300,000 were 34.2% of all transactions, up from 31.4% in May but down from 39.5% a year ago, when low-cost inland foreclosures were more plentiful. Some mid-priced markets slowed last month: Sales between $400,000 and $700,000 were 28.8% of all deals, down from 31.6% in May but up from 27.2% a year earlier.

Sales in higher-cost areas could be stronger if jumbo and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) were easier to obtain.

Jumbo loans, mortgages above the old conforming limit of $417,000, accounted for 33.3% of last month's purchase lending, down from 35.0% in May but up from 28.8% in June 2009 and a post-housing-boom low of 17.1% in January 2009. Before the August 2007 credit crunch, however, jumbos accounted for nearly 60% of the Bay Area purchase loan market.

In June, 11.9% of all home purchase loans were ARMs, down from 13.2% in May but up from 4.9% a year ago. The average monthly ARM rate over the last decade is nearly 50%. ARMs hit a low of 3.0% in January 2009.

Last month federally-insured FHA loans continued to fuel much of the first-time buyer activity and some move-up purchases. The low-down-payment loans made up 25.8% of Bay Area purchase lending last month, up from 24.4% in May and up from 23.9% a year ago, and 10.7% two years ago.

Last month absentee buyers - mostly investors - purchased 16.3% of all Bay Area homes sold, paying a median $255,000, which is up from a median of $209,000 a year ago. Buyers who appeared to have paid all cash - meaning there was no corresponding purchase loan found in the public record - accounted for 21.5% of sales in June, paying a median $258,250, which is up from a median $208,250 a year ago.

Home flipping has trended higher over the last year. Last month 2.2% of the homes that sold on the open market had been flipped, meaning bought and re-sold within a six-month period. That was up from a Bay Area flipping rate of 2.1% in May and up from 1.3% a year earlier. Last month's flipping rates varied from 0.9% in San Francisco to 3.3% in Solano County.

San Diego-based MDA DataQuick is a division of MDA Lending Solutions, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates. MDA DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts. Because of late data availability, sales were estimated in Alameda and San Mateo counties.

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Bay Area buyers committed themselves to paying was $1,709 last month, down from $1,739 the previous month, and up from $1,585 a year ago. Adjusted for inflation, last month's payment was 35.9% below the typical payment in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. It was 52.6% below the current cycle's peak in July 2007.

Indicators of market distress continue to move in different directions. Foreclosure activity remains high by historical standards but below peak levels reached over the last two years. Financing with multiple mortgages is low, down payment sizes are stable, and non-owner occupied buying remains above average, MDA DataQuick reported.