Central Ohio home sales grew 9.5 percent in March from a year ago, as the inventory of for-sale homes reached a new high, according to statistics from the Columbus Board of Realtors.

March statistics indicate that 2,344 homes were sold, up from 2,140 homes sold a year earlier.

More than 5,100 residential homes were added to the market in March, up 14 percent from March 2005, according to the board. This brings the total homes listed to 15,990 — 25 percent more homes than were on the market one year ago.

“An increase in sales of almost 10 percent is a headline in and of itself,” said Chris Reese, president of the Columbus Board of Realtors. “However, the increase in sales is still not proportional to the increase in inventory which, consequently, means there are still many sellers whose homes are taking longer to sell.”

Areas seeing the highest number of listings include southeast Delaware County, Hilliard, Dublin, southeast Columbus, Old Town East/German Village, and the northeast and west quadrants of Columbus inside the beltway. Home sales in these areas were also vigorous, as well as in Pickerington and the Newark/Heath area.

The average price of a home fell 2.4 percent in March to $164,718 due in part to the high number of homes sold in the affordable price ranges. Last month, there were 38 percent more homes sold for $80,000 and below compared to the year before. However, the highest number of sales fell in the $100,000 – $180,000 range, the board reported.

“In a buyer’s market — especially one like ours where inventory levels are so high — sellers need to understand that top dollar for their home is a gift, not a given,” Reese said. “Unless, you have the luxury of time on your side, you need to be ready to price your home realistically in such a competitive market.”

The Columbus Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service serves all of Franklin, Delaware, Union, Madison and Morrow counties, and some of Licking, Fairfield, Knox, Logan, Marion and Pickaway counties.

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