Last year at this time, the number of listings of homes for sale held fairly steady at a higher level than new sales.

That situation has been turned upside down this year, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data for 23 Washington counties: Pandemic or not, in recent weeks people are buying homes at a faster clip than existing owners are offering them for sale.

That imbalance in inventory will tend to drive prices higher. Maybe record low mortgage rates will help buyers afford homes nonetheless.

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