First-time buyers accounted for nearly half of all U.S. home sales in March as they took advantage of tax credits and more affordable prices resulting from distressed transactions, according to a real estate survey on Monday.

The survey of more than 1,500 sales agents found a record 48.2 percent of home purchases were first-time home buyers, the Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance monthly survey found.

The $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit expires this month. The previous record for first-time buyer share was at 46.9 percent in October, ahead of the November expiration of the tax credit, which was later extended.

Many observers had felt that the pool of first time homebuyers had been depleted last fall, Thomas Popik, research director for Campbell Surveys, said in a statement. Instead, the normal spring-summer buying season is combining with the tax credit to produce blow-out results for first-time homebuyers.

(Reporting by Al Yoon; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)