• Credit: homes.yahoo.com

"It may be a great time to buy, but it's a horrible time to be a buyer," newlywed house-hunter Andres Alvarez told the New York Times last week. In Los Angeles, Boston, and other busy markets around the nation, "buyers are facing a radically changed market and prices are quickly rising," the Times reports ("As Home Sales Heat Up Again, Buyers Must Resort to Cold Cash," by Jennifer Medina and Katherine Q. Seelye).

Said San Francisco real estate broker Don Faught: "A year ago, people didn't want a deal, they wanted a steal. Sellers were listing homes for less than what they originally paid for them and offering all these concessions. Now, the only concessions are coming from the buyers."

The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat tells the same story ("Home buyers' market favors those with cash," by Robert Digitale). "It's a seller's housing market in Sonoma County [California] these days, but with a twist," the paper says. "Unlike the hot market of eight years ago, the competition now includes plenty of buyers who don't need loans to make their purchases. Those all-cash buyers often are winning the bidding wars for homes."

The situation makes it tough on buyers who need a mortgage, notes the Press-Democrat. "Sharon Hislop figures she made about a dozen offers to buy a home this year, but she eventually lost count," the paper reports. "Each time, she found herself vying against multiple offers for the same home. Typically 'someone with cash would come in,' she said, 'and how do you compete with that?'"

For one young couple, competing meant getting help from Mom and Dad, reports the San Francisco Chronicle ("Regular folks transform into cash buyers to compete in hot housing market," by Carolyn Said). "Shana Negin and her husband, who both work as technology creatives, got financial help from her parents for an Oakland home, in which all four of them put their names on the deed," the paper reports. "They wanted to put some of their retirement investments into something stable and also wanted to help us out," Negin told the Chronicle: "Even though we have a pretty decent income, we were never going to have an opportunity to buy a house without that kind of help."