Low mortgage rates pushed San Francisco Bay area home sales to a six-month high in August, DataQuick said Friday.

The eagerness of move-up market buyers also played a significant role in fostering interest in local properties.

The nine counties making up the entire Bay Area recorded 8,579 new and resale home sales for August.  That is up 1.4% from 8,461 sales in July and a 14.2% surge from 7,513 sales a year ago.

The median price also is well above year-ago levels at $410,000 in August, up from $370,000 last year.

The annual increase in the median San Francisco-area home price is attributed to the types of properties being acquired. About 40.2% of the sales recorded in the San Francisco area sold for $500,000 or more last month, up 35% from last year. Distressed sales also fell slightly, going from 34% of July Bay area sales to 33.8% in August. Foreclosure resales also represented 14.9% of the resale market.

Prices from July to August declined 2.6% from $421,000 in July to $410,000 in August. Yet, DataQuick calls this mid-summer drop typical for the region.

"Most economists agree that the housing market is off bottom. But there's a big gap between the market being ‘off bottom’ and being normal, which it's not," said DataQuick president John Walsh. "The single biggest bottleneck is still the dysfunctional mortgage lending market. It'll be interesting to see how yesterday's announcement that the Fed is going to buy mortgage-backed securities plays out."

About 28% of the region's August sales had no corresponding loan purchase recorded in public databases, suggesting the borrowers paid cash.

The average monthly mortgage payment for Bay Area buyers hit $1,491 in August, up from $1,460 a year earlier.

DataQuick says foreclosure activity remains high, but is well under peaks established in the recession.