Central Ohio real estate agents are banking on lower mortgage rates and action by the Federal Reserve to bolster slumping home sales.

Central Ohio real estate agents are banking on lower mortgage rates and action by the Federal Reserve to bolster slumping home sales.

Greg Hrabcak, president of the Columbus Board of Realtors, said he is hopeful that combination will help stimulate the local housing market during the typically slow winter home sales period.

Hrabcak said some 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages have dipped below 5 percent, and rates for mortgages through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are at their lowest point since the early 1970s.

"As these truly historic rates continue, we're optimistic that consumers will see the amazing values available in today's housing market, and decide that now is as good a time to buy as we've seen in decades," Hrabcak said. "This is the lowest mortgage rate on record for an entire generation of homebuyers and it's only a matter of time before these rates have a positive affect on consumer confidence."

A boost in consumer confidence can't come too soon for local real estate agents. Central Ohio home sales figures were down again last month: 1,153 single-family homes and condominiums were sold, down from 1,565 in November 2007.

Hrabcak said that while home sales were down in November, the historically low interest rates should help drive buyers back into the market in 2009.

"National economic pressure is continuing to impact the local housing market, but we're still fairing much better than elsewhere in the country and I'm confident that a lot of qualified buyers have been waiting on the sidelines," Hrabcak said.

There were 14,418 central Ohio homes on the market in November, the lowest since 2005. The average sale price in November was $164,658.

The Columbus Board of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service serves all of Franklin, Delaware, Fayette, Madison, Morrow and Union counties, and parts of Champagne, Clark, Hocking, Licking, Fairfield, Knox, Logan, Marion, Pickaway and Ross counties.

For more information about the central Ohio housing market, visit www.ColumbusRealtors.com. To view commercial properties for sale or lease in central Ohio, visit www.COCIE.org. To view residential properties for sale, visit www.Realtor.com.