NORTH BAY – Home sales and median prices increased while new foreclosures decreased across the Bay Area in the month of April, with more varied trends in the North Bay counties, according to a duo of reports released today by foreclosure and real estate tracking firms RealtyTrac and DataQuick.

The number of homes sold across the Bay Area was virtually unchanged from the prior month at 7,675, up 13 percent from the number of homes sold in April 2011.

 “It appears that the market is taking a step in the direction of normalization, but only a step,” said DataQuick President John Walsh, in his company’s report.

Sonoma County, one of the areas singled out in the DataQuick report, saw a jump in both sales volume and median price since April of last year. The 530 homes sold represented a 14.5 percent increase, with a median price of $304,500 climbing 3.2 percent for the period.

Sales in Marin climbed 21.2 percent in volume, to 292 homes, with a 6.4 percent decrease in median price, to $618,000. Napa County home sales fell 1.6 percent in volume to 120 homes, with an unchanged median price of $317,000.

Sales in the nine-county Bay Area reached the highest volume since 2006, when 9,129 homes were sold, according to the DataQuick report. The median price for a home in the region rose year-over-year for the first time in 19 months, reaching its highest point since September 2010.

“The uptick in median sale price was to be expected. It gets tugged up as foreclosure resales ebb and activity picks up in the move-up markets,” Mr. Walsh said.

New foreclosure filings – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – fell to one in 519 homes across Sonoma County in April, versus one in every 329 during the month of March, according to the RealtyTrac report. It was a 37 percent decrease, and beat the California average of one in 351 homes. There were a total of 2,982 foreclosure homes across Sonoma County in April.

One in every 747 homes in Marin County received a foreclosure filing in April, down from one in every 585 homes in the prior month. It was a 22 percent decrease, with 900 foreclosure homes across the county.

In Napa County, one in every 369 homes received a filing. It was a 13 percent increase from the prior month despite what RealtyTrac calls a six-month falling trend, with 752 foreclosure homes total.

Solano County had more new filings than the state average in April – one in every 215 homes, which was 8 percent lower than the prior month with a total of 4,025 foreclosure properties.  Mendocino County filings were ten percent lower at one in every 447 and a total of 511 properties. One in every 521 homes received a filing in Lake County, a 69 percent decrease for 874 properties.

All six North Bay counties were experiencing a six-month falling trend in new foreclosure filings by April, according to RealtyTrac.

California as a whole retained the second-highest new foreclosure rate in the nation for April, despite a 30 percent decrease from the same month last year. Nationwide, foreclosure starts were down 14 percent from April 2011, with one in every 698 housing units with a foreclosure filing. 188,780 properties received a filing in the United States for April, the lowest monthly total since July 2007.

“Rising foreclosure activity in many state and local markets in April was masked at the national level by sizable decreases in hard-hit foreclosure states like California, Arizona and Nevada,” said Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac, in his company’s release. “Those three states, and several other non-judicial foreclosure states like them, more efficiently processed foreclosures last year, resulting in fewer catch-up foreclosures this year.”