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Traditional homebuyers and sellers returned to the San Francisco Bay Area real estate market in increasing numbers in the second quarter of 2013, fueling sharply higher home prices and nudging big-money institutional investors with cash to the sidelines, according to a recently released analysis of MLS data by the research division of Better Homes and Gardens Mason-McDuffie Real Estate.

To be sure, many luxury homebuyers – and even some first-timers – continued to pay with cash only to obtain financing once a purchase was complete. But with the region’s large supply of bargain-basement distressed properties depleted, all-cash investors increasingly gave way to traditional homebuyers with a 20 percent down payment.

Median sales prices were sharply higher in all nine Bay Area counties on both a quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year basis. Areas with the largest year-over-year increase in median sales price were Alameda County (+36 percent), Solano County (+34 percent), and Contra Costa and Napa counties (+32 percent). San Francisco recorded the region’s highest median sales price, which reached $1,201,920, followed by San Mateo County ($1,199,925) and Marin County ($1,069,559). At $271,544, Solano County’s median sales price was the lowest in the region.

For the Bay Area as a whole, the median price of an existing, single-family detached home rose to $740,567 in the second quarter, up 11 percent from 667,021 in the first quarter of this year and 30 percent from last year’s second-quarter median sales price of $570,081.

After declining to the lowest level in five years in the first quarter, sales of existing detached homes rebounded in the second quarter, climbing 44 percent from 9,985 homes sold in the first quarter to 14,370 – an increase of 4,385. Despite the improvement, the number of homes sold in the second quarter of 2013 declined by 11 percent, or 1,838 homes, from the same quarter a year ago, when 16,208 homes changed hands. Santa Clara County set the pace with 3,075 homes sold, followed by Contra Costa County, with 2,841 homes sold, and Alameda County with 2,785 homes sold.

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