First-Time Home Buyers Learn to Move Quickly in Tight Markets

Much new construction is aimed at more affluent buyers. Plus, investors — both professional and amateur — are turning to single-family homes as rental properties to diversify their holdings, creating more competition for traditional buyers when houses come on the market, said Danny Gardner, senior vice president of affordable lending and access to credit at Freddie Mac. Freddie is one of two (along with Fannie Mae) big government-controlled mortgage finance companies.

Competition for all homes in general was particularly cutthroat in some areas, especially in Western markets like San Francisco and other California cities, along with parts of Texas and Colorado, according to Realtor.com, a listing website. The website also cites Boston as a “hot” market.

In Colorado Springs, Jay Gupta, a real estate agent, described an “unprecedented” imbalance between the supply of homes and the demand for them. Prices in Colorado Springs are rising, in part because buyers priced out of already costly areas like Denver and Boulder are seeking places that are relatively affordable, brokers say.

In April, Mr. Gupta said, the Colorado Springs market had 1,524 active listings, and ended the month with 1,286 sales. Properties selling for less than $225,000 are in extremely short supply, he said: “Those homes just aren’t there.”

Recently, Mr. Gupta said, a home was listed for $310,000. Forty people attended a three-hour open house, and the property went under contract to a buyer offering $30,000 over the asking price. The buyer, who was relocating from out of state, apparently grew tired of seeing his offers on other houses get declined, Mr. Gupta said.