CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago and Illinois housing markets got a vital shot in the arm on Thursday, as March figures revealed existing home sales shot up significantly. Median prices also stabilized, ending a long streak of declines.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, the head of the Illinois Association of Realtors says the latest figures suggest the housing market has turned the corner in Chicago and across the state.

“I haven’t seen the real estate business this busy since five years ago, when we started going down,” said association president Loretta Alonzo, a real estate agent in LaGrange Park.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Sales of existing single-family homes and condos surged last month – up 12 percent in Chicago, and 21 percent statewide. Home sales statewide totaled 9,575 statewide – the best March performance since 2007, when 11,979 homes where sold.

Alonzo said prices are stabilizing, with the median price up more than 5 percent in Chicago, compared to last march.

Median prices statewide were flat, but still ended 20 straight months of declining prices.

Alonzo had some advice for anyone who’s been on the sidelines, waiting to buy a home.

“Start looking now, because you’re gonna find a decrease in inventory. The good homes are going quickly, and the interest rates are still below 4 percent. So, it’s a very good buyer’s market out there,” she said.

Alonzo said realtors are beginning to see multiple offers on foreclosed properties.

“As many as 15 on one REO (real estate-owned) property, so that’s gonna help push the prices up a little bit, I’m sure,” she said. “When they start doing multiple offers, they start offering more than the list price.”

Alonzo called it encouraging news, no matter what side of a real estate transaction you’re on.

Nationally, sales of existing homes fell in March by 2.6 percent.