PORTLAND --House Hunters beware. Inventory levels are continuing to shrink in the metro area.

It may be good for sellers, but for buyers that's another matter.

Steven Pryce and his wife wanted to downsize. They started looking and found, with the current tight market, they were out-bid three times.

Finally, on the fourth try, we ended up getting a house we chose, said Pryce.But, at $30,000 over the asking price.

With just two-and-a-half months of inventory for homes $500,000 and below, there is a bidding war on many listings.

Get ready, whether you re a seller or a buyer, be prepared, said Brian Allen, president of Windermere Stellar. You need to strategy to sell your house and you need a strategy to buy a house.

Sellers may currently pull the strings, but Realtor Gary Potts with Meadows Group Realty said buyers are more savvy today.

The buyers are much more qualified this time around then, say 2007 or '08, and they're going to be picky, said Potts. And if they're going to overbid for a house, it has to be ready.

According to the Regional Multiple Listing Service, the average selling price in Portland was $332,600.

That price was up 9.9 percent over last year.

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