Spring is off to a great start here in our region. Our local economy shows no signs of slowing and the healthy job market continues to attract high-wage­earning homebuyers to our region.

Prospective buyers are increasingly looking to North Sound and South Sound communities to find homes that meet their needs and their budgets. The time it takes to commute into job centers is an important consideration for these buyers, but both finished and planned public transportation improvements such as light rail, HOV lane construction and foot ferries have homebuyers expanding their search areas.

These outlying areas are also experiencing stunning price increases, but prices remain within range to continue to attract buyers. Many cities in these outlying areas are fighting against becoming bedroom communities by increasing efforts to attract large employers and keep residents working (and spending their hard-earned money) closer to home.

Our local market remains hot, and the most recent sales statistics from the Northwest MLS show why the Puget Sound area is currently the most competitive market in the U.S.: Closed-sales prices for single-family homes are again up year-over-year in King County by 15.04 per­cent, while in Snohomish County, prices are up by 17.58 percent and in Pierce County by 16.07 percent. Industry experts attribute the price increases to the steady flow of home­buyers entering the market and compet­ing for homes, as well as to persistent low inventory throughout our region.

Meanwhile, mortgage rates continue their slow upward march; however, given that the rates are still historically low, to this point, the upward trend is not deterring homebuyers from continuing their quests.