LOS ANGELES - Home sales in California increased last month, and the median price of a home reached its highest level in nearly four years, the Los Angeles-based California Association of Realtors reported today.

Closed escrow sales of existing single-family detached homes reached a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 529,230 in July, up 2 percent from June's revised 518,680 rate, the association said in a statement. July's sales pace was 15.3 percent higher than July 2011's revised pace of 459,140 sales.

At the same time, July marked the fifth consecutive month that California's median home price was up from both the previous month and year, according to CAR.

The statewide median price of an existing single-family detached home was $333,860 in July, up 4.2 percent from $320,540 in June and up 12.7 percent from a revised $296,160 in July 2011.

The July 2012 median price was the highest since August 2008, when it reached $352,730. July also marked the fourth straight month that the median price has posted above the $300,000 level, according to CAR.

"The strong performance in the median price over the past few months reflects a sales shift away from homes in the lower price ranges of the market due to stark inventory toward sales of homes priced above $500,000," said CAR Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. "As an example, in July sales of homes priced below $200,000 declined 9.4 percent from the previous year, and homes priced above $500,000 climbed 27.7 percent from a year ago."

Interest rates remained at historically low levels in July, with 30-year fixed-mortgage interest rates averaging 3.55 percent, down from 3.68 percent in June and 4.55 percent in July 2011. Adjustable-mortgage interest rates averaged 2.69 percent in July, down from 2.76 percent in June and 2.97 percent in June 2011.