The recovery of the economy's housing sector has been slow and steady, but in some markets properties move incredibly fast. In these areas, buyers have to make speedy decisions and act quickly because demand for homes is high, supply is low and many homes go under contract in two weeks or less. Here, we take a look at some of the fastest selling markets and offer home buying tips for would-be buyers to get in on the action.

The fastest markets

Numbers from late last year show properties changed hands at lightning speed in San Jose, Calif. As of November, 48.6 percent of homes listed for sale were off the market with sales pending in less than two weeks, up 0.6 percent from October. With 12 days as the median length of time spent on the market, buyers need to jump on homes when they find them. Figures are similar in San Francisco where demand also outpaces supply.

The biggest increase in speedy sales over the prior month as of November happened in foreclosure-battered Las Vegas: Homes which went under contract in less than two weeks jumped by 5.7 percent. Trailing this figure just slightly was Ventura, Calif., where home prices were also up from the previous year.

In Boston, housing sales inventory was down by about 29 percent, making it a sellers' haven in which homes moved quickly. Paul Bishop, vice president for the National Association of Realtors, said, "Some homes are flying off the market in a matter of days." Denver and Seattle are also markets which have seen growth over the prior year and fast-moving inventory.

Winning home buying tips

With buyers facing repeated frustration by missing out on home after home to other buyers, the key is to get smart and use as many resources as possible.

Working with an agent can give a buyer a leg up on the search. A high-volume real estate agency can have numerous new properties listed daily and those for sale may not get listed in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) right away. An agent at such a brokerage may know of a new listing before it becomes public knowledge.

Agents in some markets, including San Francisco and Las Vegas, have access to real-time MLS alerts. They will receive a notification for new listings right after they are entered, although it will take a while for those listings to show up in public searches. A good agent may be able to point these out, so the buyer can pounce quickly and avoid repeated frustration from coming too late to bid on a home.

Agents also have access to expired listings. Some homeowners may have listed the house a few years ago—when the markets were much slower and credit was tighter—and given up. These former sellers may be prompted to get back in the market when contacted by an agent. Following the adage that it never hurts to ask, buyers can work with the agent to sort through listings that may have fallen between the cracks when the housing bubble crashed.

Don't skimp

When homes are flying off the market at a breakneck pace, it doesn't make any sense to try to low-ball an offer. If the home is suited to the buyer and it is priced fairly, it makes more sense to submit an offer for the full asking price rather than be beaten out by someone willing to pay more.

Look past the ugly

In a fast-paced market, buyers need the vision to see past cosmetic flaws or unflattering photos of the home. A diamond in the rough might be hidden by dated furnishings or bad lighting, and savvy buyers will be able to see through the ugly and assess the bones of a home.

As the housing market continues to undergo changes, buyers in booming locations will need to be knowledgeable and really know what they are after. They will also have to balance their expectations and know what compromises they are willing to make. As mortgage rates inch upward, getting frozen out of the market for too long can be costly. Visit our mortgage page for information on the best available mortgage interest rates.

Related Articles
  1. Home & Auto

    How To Find The Best Mortgage Rates In Your State

    There are plenty of things that you can do to find a rate that will not only make it easier for you to afford a mortgage, but will also be better than any other offered in your state.
  2. Home & Auto

    Forget McMansions, In-Town Homes Offer Best Values

    Aging baby boomers, Gen X-ers and plugged-in Millennials are seeking the walkable communities of yesteryear. Smaller and older homes are holding value and appreciating more rapidly than homes ...
  3. Home & Auto

    What To Know Before Buying A Foreclosure

    While foreclosures can be terrific investments, buying a foreclosure can also be a very risky expenditure, one into which no one should enter without a lot of research and intestinal fortitude. ...
  4. Personal Finance

    Why Home Ownership Is Still A Good Idea

    Owning a home is still a good decision for many people and can be an important part of a long-term financial strategy.
  5. Home & Auto

    Home Sale Contingencies: What Buyers And Sellers Need To Know

    Home sale contingencies protect buyers who want to sell one home before purchasing another. Find out what buyers and sellers need to know about these contractual conditions.
  6. Home & Auto

    Buying A House Sight Unseen: Good Deal Or Bad Mistake?

    There are significant risks that need to be acknowledged before buying a home without viewing it in person.
  7. Home & Auto

    Contingency Clauses In Home Purchase Contracts

    Here, we introduce widely used contingency clauses in home purchase contracts and how they can benefit both Buyers and Sellers.
  8. Home & Auto

    Rent-To-Own Homes: How The Process Works

    A rent-to-own agreement can benefit homebuyers with bad credit or insufficient funds for a down payment. Here’s how one works.
  9. Investing Basics

    10 Habits Of Successful Real Estate Investors

    Enjoying long-term success in real estate investing requires certain habits. Here are 10 that effective real estate investors share.
  10. Home & Auto

    7 Must-Have Real Estate Contract Conditions

    Buying a home can bury you in paperwork. But it’s worth your time to make sure your contract contains these seven important conditions.
  1. Can FHA loans be used for investment property?

    Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans were created to promote homeownership. These loans have lower down payment requirements ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Does an FHA loan require a down payment?

    Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans require down payments, which can be as low as 3.5% of the total purchase price ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can a 401(k) be used for a house down payment?

    A 401(k) retirement plan can be tapped to raise a down payment for a house. You can either borrow money or make a withdrawal ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Do banks offer FHA loans?

    Many major U.S. banks, including Well Fargo & Company, U.S. Bancorp, Bank of America and Flagstar Bancorp, offer Federal ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Does the FHA provide construction loans?

    The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) does provide construction loans for both new construction and rehab projects. The ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Can I borrow from my annuity to put a down payment on a house?

    You can borrow from your annuity to put a down payment on a house, but be prepared to pay an assortment of fees and penalties. ... Read Full Answer >>
Trading Center