Between a slight decrease this month and a massive negative revision to the previous month, the California real estate market turned on a dime according to San Diego based DataQuick's release of August sales figures and revised numbers for July.  The firm reported that sales were down 1.9 percent in August to 42,546 units from revised sales of 43,381 in July. 

The July revision is significant.  When data was originally released last month those sales had been reported at 48,118 units, 7,091 units more than in June, a phenomenal one month gain of 17.3 percent.  The revised increase of 2,354 units, while still a healthy bounce of 5.7 percent is no longer in the realm of stratospheric.

August sales figures were 3.1 percent higher than sales in August 2012 (41,280) and were the highest for any August since 2006 when 51,054 homes were sold.  DataQuick said since it began keeping records in 1988 sales in August have averaged 47,849 units; August 2013 sales estimates were 11.1 percent below that average.

The median price paid for a home in California last month was $361,000, down 0.6 percent from $363,000 in July and up 28.5 percent from $281,000 in August 2012.  While August was the 18th month in which the median sale price rose on an annual basis, the amount of that increase eased slightly from the 29.2 percent growth rate from July 2012 to July 2013.  The peak median price in California was reached in the spring of 2007 at $484,000 and the he post-peak trough was $221,000 in April 2009.

Of the existing homes sold last month, 7.8 percent were properties that had been foreclosed on during the past year and 13.2 percent were short sales.  Foreclosure sales had an 8.3 share in July and a 20.0 percent share in August 2012 and had peaked at 58.8 percent of sales in February 2009.  Short sales were down from a 14.4 percent in July and 26.4 percent a year earlier.

DataQuick said that indicators of market distress continue to decline. Foreclosure activity remains well below year-ago and peak levels reached several years ago. Financing with multiple mortgages is low, while down payment sizes are stable.