Central Texas home sales kept up their hot streak in March, rising more than 15 percent over the same month last year. Meanwhile, the area’s median sales price also rose to $200,000, up 8 percent from March 2011, according to the Austin Board of Realtors.

March marked the 10th straight month of year-over-year increases in sales of existing homes, with 1,852 sales compared with 1,604 in March 2011, the board said.

Last month, economists said Central Texas’ job growth should continue to boost home sales throughout 2012, while the dwindling supply of homes could push prices higher.

Leonard Guerrero, chairman of the Austin Board of Realtors, said the area’s median home price saw “another healthy increase” that indicates “competition is increasing among buyers as the inventory of homes continues to shrink.” In March, 7,274 homes were on the market in the Austin area, 21 percent fewer than in March 2011, the board said.

Based on average monthly sales for the previous 12 months, the March listings work out to a supply of 4.4 months – nearly two months less than the inventory in March, 2011.  A supply of  6 1/2 months is considered a market in which supply and demand are balanced. Prices typically rise when the supply dips below about six months.

Area homes in March sold for $117 per square foot, up5
percent from the March
2011.
The price per square foot is a key measure of market health, experts say, and a better indicator of home appreciation because it removes a major variable house size — from the equa-
tion.
Ed Friedman, a director in Moody’s Analytics office in West Chester, Penn., said the March home sales report was strong and was “consistent with our view that 2012 will be the best year for housing in the past
four or five years.
“However, the gains will be moderate rather than rapid since the firming of both the national and local economic recoveries will still be gradual rather than rapid,” said Friedman, who follows the Texas economy and the local housing market. “That said, Austin remains near the top of the list in being well-positioned to see housing grow.”
Friedman said the region’s “population growth rate remains three times the national average, company relocations are continuing, especially in IT and especially from California … and employment is growing steadily.”