Some prospective home buyers face bidding wars

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Buying a house was a challenge for Josh Caswell and his family. Not because they could not find one in their price range, but because every time they did, they were outbid.

"We put in multiple offers, probably about seven, and we were going well above list price, sometimes up to like $20,000 over list price," Caswell said.

They've finally had an offer accepted for a three-bedroom, two-bath in Chandler, for which they had to offer $7,000 above the asking price.

"I thought I could get a big house for little money and it would be a quick turnaround and that everyone is looking for home buyers, but that's not the case," Caswell said.

Instead, real-estate experts are seeing increased competition between traditional home buyers, investors, and cash buyers for a shrinking inventory.

"The multiple-offer situations have returned with a vengeance," said Chandler Realtor Matthew Coates, who helped the Caswells find their home. "We haven't seen this kind of activity since the market peak from 2004 to 2006."

About 7,400 homes were sold in the greater Phoenix area last month, which is a slight increase from February of 2011, but more than double the number sold back in February 2008, when the bubble burst, according to Cromford Associates.

It's a step in the right direction, but may not mean the worst is over, said Phoenix real-estate attorney Robert Nagle.

"We still have a lot of families, a lot of homes underwater," Nagle said. "We are still far from being out of the housing recession that we have been in for the last few years."