socalhouse“There’s a bit of a buyer’s panic,” said Jeffrey Gundlach, founder and CEO of DoubleLine Capital, an L.A.-based investment firm.

“People are fighting with other people,” he noted, engaging in bidding wars in which houses go on the market and immediately receive dozens of offers.

“It’s almost the same type of environment I remember from the late 1980s,” said Gundlach, a longtime Southern California resident. “People would be writing out offers on the roofs of their cars – and there would always be several cars lined up.”

But there isn’t really a new housing bubble now. Although plenty of buyers probably feel like there is.

A number of factors have collided to create abundant froth in the present-day market – one that has made it exceptionally difficult for everyday buyers with conventional mortgages to beat out well-capitalized investors and all-cash purchasers.

“People are talking loudly about these price gains, but they’re not that high,” Gundlach said. He said the broader 20-city Case-Shiller composite index, which was set at 100 in 2000, topped out at 200 in 2007 and is now at 148.

“It’s rather easy to predict home prices going higher,” he said.

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