Renewed interest by first-time homebuyers is largely responsible for the best central Ohio home sales figures in six months, Columbus Board of Realtors President Gary Parsons said.

Renewed interest by first-time homebuyers is largely responsible for the best central Ohio home sales figures in six months, Columbus Board of Realtors President Gary Parsons said.

March home sales in central Ohio were the highest since October 2008. A total of 1,360 homes sold in March, a 21.1 percent increase over February sales, but still down compared to March 2008.

"It has been my impression that the first-time homebuyer is fueling the market now, which should funnel up to the second and third generation buyer in the short-term future," Parsons said. "It appears historically-low interest rates, realistic sellers and the $8,000 tax credit (for first-time homebuyers) are positively impacting our market."

Parsons said the March figures indicate work remains to be done to restore the confidence of both buyers and sellers.

"Although sales are increasing, they are down compared to last March, indicating some buyers and sellers are still cautious to enter the market at this point," he said. "The housing market is influenced by consumer confidence, which is still lacking somewhat. If people are serious about buying, and they're waiting for the market to bottom out, they may end up waiting too long and missing a great opportunity."

Parsons said that while affordability is still at record levels, the average sales price increased in March to $143,287, the highest this year. However, that is still down 7.6 percent compared to March 2008.

"Prices are still favorable, especially with the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers, but as more inventory is absorbed, prices will continue to rebound," Parsons said.