Central Ohio real estate agents had reason to celebrate in March.

Central Ohio real estate agents had reason to celebrate in March.

According to statistics released April 22 by the Columbus Board of Realtors, home sales were up 54 percent over February totals and home prices were up nearly 8 percent.

"The central Ohio housing market is on fire right now," said Sue Lusk-Gleich, president of the Columbus Board of Realtors. "There's no question the home buyer tax credits have a lot to do with our market activity. But the significant increase in listings as well as rising sale prices are clear evidence that our local market is regaining its strength."

There were 1,704 central Ohio homes sold during March 2010. This is 54.1 percent higher than the previous month and 25.3 percent higher than March 2009. The first quarter saw 3,873 homes sold in central Ohio, 12.5 percent more than during January through March 2009.

There were 4,949 residential homes put on the market last month - a 44.3 percent increase over new listings the previous month and 32.8 percent higher than homes listed in March 2009.

The average central Ohio home is selling for $149,277 this year, 7.8 percent higher than the sale price from January to March 2009. Homes sold during March 2010 for an average of $151,719, a 5.9 increase over last year.

"Home prices have shown steady increases for the last few months - another key factor in any market recovery," Lusk-Gleich said. "However, when you consider that the national median price of a home is over $170,000, central Ohio housing remains a very affordable market."