Industry NewsMarkets & Economy

Multiple offers: the new norm

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By PETER BARNES Up-market homes consistently sell above asking in a New Jersey suburb. Bidding wars break out in hot neighborhoods in Cape Cod, Chicago and Seattle. Short sales in some Florida and California markets draw as many as 40 bids. It's a far cry from 2006, but brokers and agents across the country say multiple offers are once again the norm in specific corners of the market. "The banks are purposely putting them on the market under value and creating a frenzy," says Kristi Townsend of Altera Real Estate in Mission Viejo, Calif., where dozens of cars recently lined up in front of one bank-owned house the day it listed. In many areas with heavy short-sale and foreclosure activity, prices in the last few months have reached a point where investors and first-time buyers are clamoring for the best deals. Even in more subdued markets where prices haven't fallen as far, buyers face a competitive market for houses in hot neighborhoods at the right price. Seat...