Sales of high-end homes in the San Francisco Bay area fell significantly in October as lower conforming loan limits kicked in at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, DataQuick said Wednesday. In October, 6,444 homes and condos sold in the Bay Area, down 4.5% from 6,749 in September but up 5.3% from October of last year. When looking at the number of homes sold in the $500,000 or more market, sales fell 20% from a year earlier. "We’ve been watching the real estate market take itty-bitty baby steps in the direction of normalcy, but that trend paused last month. ARM and jumbo loan usage went back down, cash and investor sales went back up as a portion of the market. This may well be a short-term pause while the market recalibrates changes in loan thresholds. We’ll know more in a few months," said John Walsh, president of DataQuick. The conforming loan limit — or the max for how much mortgage the government-sponsored enterprises can insure — fell back to $625,500 from $729,750 on Oct. 1. Since then, lawmakers have been trying to reinstall the higher conforming loan limits. Congress took another step toward extending the conforming loan limits for the Federal Housing Administration on Tuesday but not for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In the Bay Area, the median sales price on all home and condos hit $350,000, down 4.1% from $365,000 in September and 8.6% from $383,000 in October 2010. In October, the sale of distressed properties made up 45.4% of the Bay Area resale market. That is consistent with September and down from 46.5% a year ago. Write to Kerri Panchuk.