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Spring is generally regarded as the most popular time of year to buy a house, but with that comes a bit of a buyer’s problem: competition. Home prices were up and inventory was down in May from last year, according to a monthly analysis from Realtor.com. Meanwhile, property listings turned over at a much higher rate, contributing to the high-pressure situation that is finding and purchasing the right home.

Many of the places with the hottest markets in May will come as no surprise to consumers — most are in California. Realtor.com determines “hot” markets based on two factors: the median inventory age in the market and the number of views per listing on Realtor.com, and the 20 hottest markets rank in the top 50 in both metrics. Nationwide, a home is on the market for a median 66 days, and in the hottest markets, inventory turns over 8 to 45 days more quickly than in the rest of the country.

Based on data from the first three weeks of May, Realtor.com determined the 20 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs, as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau) with the hottest markets this spring.

20. Stockton/Lodi, Calif.
April 2015 rank: 38

19. Columbus, Ohio
April 2015 rank: 22

18. Manchester/Nashua, N.H.
April 2015 rank: 31

17. Oxnard/Thousand Oaks/Ventura, Calif.
April 2015 rank: 13

16. Austin/Round Rock, Texas
April 2015 rank: 14

15. Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim, Calif.
April 2015 rank: 15

14. Fargo, N.D./Minn.
April 2015 rank: 12

13. Boulder, Colo.
April 2015 rank: 17

12. Sacramento/Roseville/Arden-Arcade, Calif.
April 2015 rank: 21

11. San Diego/Carlsbad, Calif.
April 2015 rank: 10

10. Detroit/Warren/Dearborn, Mich.
April 2015 rank: 11

9. Ann Arbor, Mich.
April 2015 rank: 9

8. Santa Rosa, Calif.
April 2015 rank: 7

7. Santa Cruz/Watsonville, Calif.
April 2015 rank: 8

6. Boston/Cambridge/Newton, Mass.
April 2015 rank: 6

5. Vallejo/Fairfield, Calif.
April 2015 rank: 5

4. Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington, Texas
April 2015 rank: 4

3. San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, Calif.
April 2015 rank: 3

2. San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward, Calif.
April 2015 rank: 2

1. Denver/Aurora/Lakewood, Colo.
April 2015 rank: 1

These markets have seen tremendous demand and turnover for a variety of reasons. In many of the California locales, economic growth, combined with limited supply and high demand, make homebuying a bit of a mad dash. For places like Detroit and Ann Arbor, the hot market is driven mostly by affordability, in conjunction with economic recovery.

No matter where you’re looking for a home, it’s good to know what you’ll face in terms of competition, so you can better prepare yourself to make an offer when you find a desirable property. Before any of that, it’s crucial you work to improve your credit to the best of your ability and make sure it’s in good shape before house-hunting or applying for a mortgage. The better your credit, the more options you’re likely to have, even in a competitive market. You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

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