By Heidi Groover
Seattle Times business reporter

Want to buy a house in the Seattle area? You’ll need stockpiles of cash in the bank, endless free time and a masochistic streak.

OK, maybe it’s not quite that bad.

Still, the region’s housing market is one of the hottest in the country. Prices are up. Inventory is selling fast. Your dream home could draw dozens of competing offers. It will likely sell for more than the list price, maybe even to an all-cash buyer.

So frenzied is this sellers’ market that some buyers can barely get in to see a home before someone else snags it.

“We’re halfway through our appointment, we’re gushing about how we want to make an offer and the Realtor gets an alert that they accepted an offer earlier today,” recalled recent buyer Alice Cryer. “We were standing in the house.”

Along the way, buyers are expected to make quick decisions with high stakes. Will you have the house inspected? (What about the sewer?) There’s a cash buyer making a better offer — can you pay any more?

“We watched a lot of HGTV,” said James Johnson, who with his wife, Emily, bought a Tacoma town house this year. “It was nothing like you saw on television.”

We talked to real estate brokers, lenders and recent buyers to put together a more realistic picture.

Read the rest of the article here.