Hat tip to Mr. T for sending this along – excerpted from Bloomberg:

Matthew and Carina Hensley offered $10,000 more than the asking price for a three-bedroom house in suburban Seattle, then lost out to one of seven other bidders.

Their $270,000 proposal last month came with a family portrait and a letter introducing the couple, their eight-month- old daughter, Harper, and their desire to build a family in the Renton, Washington, house with a yard backing onto a woody hillside.

Bidding wars, absent from most parts of the U.S. residential market since its peak in 2006, are erupting from Seattle and Silicon Valley to Miami and Washington, D.C.

The inventory of homes hovers close to a six-year low, while an increase in jobs and record affordability are tempting more buyers. The number of contracts to buy previously owned homes jumped 14 percent in February from a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors reported yesterday.

“The housing crash is finally giving way to recovery in an increasing number of markets across the country,” Zandi said in an e-mail. “The decline in unsold listings and vacant homes and the increase in rents presage better times ahead for single- family housing.”

Asking prices tend to be higher and inventory tends to be lower from March through May, while sales peak by June and inventory reaches a top in July, said Jed Kolko, chief economist for Trulia, a consumer-oriented real estate information service.

“As housing comes out of hibernation in the spring, demand picks up,” Kolko said in a telephone interview from San Francisco. “Prices peak early in the season and inventory peaks later. Buyers should be more patient, but sellers should move faster.”

Agents encountered multiple bids on about half of offers in Seattle, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Oregon this year through March 15, said Tim Ellis, real estate analyst for online brokerage Redfin. In the San Francisco area, Redfin agents reported that three of four offers involved competition, he said.

One home in Palo Alto, California, received 38 offers and sold for $1.65 million, or $452,000 more than its asking price, said Ken DeLeon, a real estate broker in Silicon Valley since 2002. Another client paid $2.56 million for a home in 2007 and is listing it for $3 million, with the expectation of receiving higher offers, he said. The seller wants to use the proceeds to buy a home in Saratoga, about 18 miles southeast of Palo Alto, where the market hasn’t heated up yet, DeLeon said.

Prices are hitting all-time highs, above Palo Alto’s 2007 peak levels, in the 94301 and 94306 ZIP codes, as buyers rush to purchase in advance of an expected flood of newly minted millionaires when Facebook Inc. (FB) has its initial public offering, DeLeon said. The Menlo Park-based social-networking company filed paperwork in February for an IPO that may result in a market valuation of $75 billion to $100 billion.

The Hensleys haven’t given up on living in the Renton, Washington, area, where both sets of parents live. The winning bidder offered $15,000 above the asking price and didn’t make the sale contingent on successful financing or inspection, according to Kimberly Hobbs, the Seattle broker who represented the seller.

“From this experience we learned that we have to move fast, especially if a house is nice,” Matthew Hensley said. “The competition is fierce out there.”

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