'This is not the time for amateurs,' says real estate agent in a fiercely competitive housing market

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    Competition in this spring’s housing market is hotter than ever, thanks to high demand and record low supply.

    Selling a home has likely never been easier, and while that may sound like great news for real estate agents, there is a problem: They are desperate to find listings.

    “Frankly, this is not the time for amateurs,” said Dana Bull, a Boston area real estate agent. “This is the big leagues here.”

    Bull has been in the real estate business for over a decade and has never seen it so lean. It’s not just Boston; nationally there are about half as many homes listed for sale right now without contracts on them as there were a year ago, according to realtor.com. The typical home is also now selling a week faster than last year.

    By the numbers, there are now about twice as many working real estate agents as there are listings. Spring is usually the time of year when the most listings come on the market, but this March there were 20% fewer homes listed than last March.

    Potential sellers have several concerns, the largest being that they are afraid they won’t be able to find or afford another home. Not only are home prices incredibly hot, up over 11% year over year, according to the S&P Case-Shiller home price index, but rents are also rising fast.

    Nationwide, nearly 61% of home offers written by Redfin agents faced bidding wars in February, up from 59% in January. That is the 10th-straight month in which more than half of Redfin offers faced competition. More than a third of homes are also now selling for above list price.

    “The uptick in mortgage rates is likely fueling more bidding wars in the short term because house hunters are rushing to buy homes before rates rise even further,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather.

    Agent Dana Bull gets ready for an open house outside Boston, MA.Marco Mastrorilli | CNBC

    For agents, finding more listings is a constant struggle. Supply had been tightest on the low end of the market, but now the higher end is slimming as well.

    “We’re pulling out all