The California Association of Realtors on Friday reported a 96.7% increase in sales of single-family detached homes in September.

Homes were selling at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 502,190 in September, C.A.R. said, the first time the 500,000 mark was surpassed in more than two years. Sales were up 2.3% from August.

The statewide median price, meanwhile, fell 40.9% to $316,480, which was down 9.6% compared with August.

"This dramatic increase in sales owes as much to market weakness a year ago in the early stages of the credit crunch, as it does to the growth of sales in September this year," said C.A.R. President William E. Brown. "Similar increases occurred in the early 1980s when the market was climbing out of a comparatively steep downturn in sales. We expect the market to register significant year-to-year percentage gains in the coming months as current sales are compared against extremely low numbers that prevailed during the fourth quarter of last year," he said.

"There is still no clear sign that the statewide median price has begun to stabilize, and recent events in the economy and financial system undoubtedly contributed to the steep decline in September, both directly and through weakened consumer confidence," said Leslie Appleton-Young , the Realtor group's vp and chief economist. "The median also will continue to face downward pressure from the large share of distressed sales and a dramatic change in the sales mix. A year ago, the under $500,000 price range accounted for 46% of sales but shifted to 76% as of September."

C.A.R.¹s Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in September 2008 was 6.5 months, compared with 16 months (revised) for the same period a year ago. The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 46.1 in September 2008, compared with 56.7 days (revised) for the same period a year ago.