Realtors say: "perfect storm" for buyers and sellers

TRI-CITIES - It's often called called an investment of a lifetime--- and if you've ever dreamed of buying your own home, you could be in luck. New numbers show plenty of first-time home buyers are having their dreams come true. KEPR uncovered it's a trend that's happening in our area as well.

For Jane and Andy, it was about the creative space. Space to host - and the space to run their phone-app business.

"It was a good time, we just found the right house. And we had the money saved up for it, so it seemed like a great choice," said recent buyer Andy Cassinelli.

The pair recently bought a home in Kennewick. They're part of the growing trend in the local housing market. January and February this year, home sales are up 11%. in the Tri-Cities. A pleasant change after a bruising year.

"It really is a driving force for our entire economy locally," said local realtor Amy Leicht.

Realtors report higher confidence levels than last year. If you're looking to buy a home, you'll have lower-interest rates on your side.

"People just continuing to tell us -- interest rates are low! Now is a good time," added recent buyer Jane Cassinelli.

The good rates come with a drop in availability for homes under $250,000. However, realtors say not to assume prices will rise. Many variables play a role. They tell me it's now common to have multiple offers on a house.

"Multiple cash deals on single homes -- even over 450,000," explained Leicht.

The increased activity comes as lumber prices spike -- up 50% from a year ago. And they're expected to climb higher. That means -- buyers may turn to more affordable resell homes.

All to find a home -- and to build a life.

The boost to the real estate market comes with gains in employment. Nationally -- more than 200,000 new jobs were added in February. Driving the unemployment rate to its lowest levels in four years.