Central Texas home sales rose 5 percent in January from a year ago, the Austin Board of Realtors reported Thursday.

January’s median sales price rose 1 percent to $179,250.

Real estate agents sold 884 previously owned homes in January, compared with 840 the same month last year. There were 1,417 sales pending, a 7 percent increase from a year earlier.

John Horton, chairman of the Board of Realtors, said January 2009 marked the low point of the current cycle.

“With steady improvement throughout 2009 that, continued in January 2010, we can see that we’re one year into the recovery in Austin,” Horton said. “What’ most important about this is that it’s the kind of recovery we want: one that is steady, stable and consistent.”

Throughout 2009, the volume of single-family home sales in Austin improved steadily, Horton said. In the first half of 2009, the gap in year-over-year sales narrowed consistently, reaching levels similar to those in 2008 during the summer peak, with the exception of a dip in August, Horton said.

By fall, sales began outperforming 2008. They surged in October and November, spurred by the original deadline for the first-time home-buyer tax credit. In December, sales returned to a modest increase, rising 5 percent from December 2008, a growth rate that held last month.

“We’re already seeing positive signs in sales volume and price appreciation,” Horton said.  “Those factors, combined with the population growth and additional jobs economists expect for our area in 2010, bode well for the long-term value of Austin real estate.”