(Joe Ybarra Reporting)
Home prices are increasing across the nation and according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, prices are up 10.9% nationally since last March.
Home prices are also up locally, which is good for the economy, but not good for those trying to get into their first home.
Eric Gonzalez has been searching for a home in the South Valley for six months. He's never owned one before and says the competition has made things difficult. "Once January hit, we just saw the market go up and houses, literally every week, they were just going," said Eric.
In Tulare County, there are a couple of forces driving the competition: The economy is getting better and home prices are going up.
Realtor Heather Mendonca said, "Inventory is going down, people are buying homes and qualifying for loans so that means people have jobs."
According to Mendonca's numbers, home prices have shot up 34% in 15 months and the majority of the increase happened in just the last 5.
The increase is especially good news for those who have been upside down on their mortgage. "Those people who live and work here, who now have a little bit of equity, they can sell their home whereas before they couldn't because they were negative equity," said Mendonca.
The home Eric is looking at is listed at $240,000. Realtor Kathy Hagin says a year ago, it would have sold for $200,000, but even with the increase, she says it'll sell quickly. "There'll probably be multiple offers on this one," said Hagin.
To make matters worse, Hagin says Eric is competing with investors and people with cash.
Eric says he'll make an offer and hope his search is over.
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