Sonoma County’s median home price shot up to $479,000 in July as sales shifted dramatically from starter homes to properties in pricier neighborhoods.

The median price for a single-family home rose 37.5 percent from a year earlier, according to The Press Democrat’s monthly housing report.  The monthly median was the highest since January 2008, when it was recorded at $500,000.

For July sales volume, the county differed from the rest of Bay Area, which reported the largest number of July transactions in eight years. Sales of houses and condos in the nine-county rose 13.3 percent from a year earlier, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.

In contrast, county single family home sales declined 4.2 percent to 485, according to The Press Democrat report. Even so, that was the second-highest sales level for July in eight years.

Brokers agreed the jump in the county’s median price was largely attributable to the decline in sales of starter homes and the rise of sales for homes in more expensive neighborhoods.

July sales under $400,000 were cut in half, declining to 158 from 325 a year earlier. Meanwhile, sales above $400,000 increased by 81 percent to 327 from 181 a year ago.

DataQuick reported that the Bay Area’s median home price increased 33.5 percent from a year earlier to $562,000. That was the highest since December 2007, when the median was $587,500.

“There’s all this talk of a frenzy, but the fact is that we’re still looking at a Bay Area housing market that is in the process of re-balancing itself, regaining lost ground,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president. “As prices continue to rise, more homes will be put up for sale, easing the upward price pressure.”