Central Ohio real estate agents got good news to start off the year as traditionally sluggish January home sales were up by nearly 7 percent over January 2009.

Central Ohio real estate agents got good news to start off the year as traditionally sluggish January home sales were up by nearly 7 percent over January 2009.

According to statistics released by the Columbus Board of Realtors, 1,025 central Ohio homes sold last month, compared to 959 in January 2009, marking the fifth straight month of increased sales over the previous year.

The Columbus Board of Realtors also reported a 12.5 percent increase in new listings and a 6.2 percent increase in average sale prices.

"Central Ohio is faring better than we could have foreseen," said Columbus Board of Realtors president Sue Lusk-Gleich. "Homes are spending fewer days on the market and the average sale price is increasing. Today, our market is the strongest it has been since the housing boom."

Central Ohio homes spent an average of 90 days on the market, a one-week reduction from January 2009.

"While there are still some reasons to be cautious, it seems there are just as many reasons to be optimistic," Lusk-Gleich said.

The average sale price in January was $145,993, up from $137,446 in January 2009. New listings grew from 3,016 in January 2009 to 3,393 last month.

"Five straight months of sales increases and three straight months of sales price increases is very good news for the central Ohio housing market," Lusk-Gleich said. "With the tax credits available for existing and first-time buyers, we expect positive numbers for the next several months."