Spring is typically the high season for housing stock, so that means it's a buyer's market, right? We guess, if a "buyer's market" involves letting the average price of existing homes jump to $183,000 from $165,000, as they did between February and June of last year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

But it'll be different this year without the first-time homebuyer's tax incentive, right? Not really. Housing inventory hovered between 3.9 million and 4 million homes last spring, which equates to a roughly 8.2- to 8.9-month supply after a 3.5 million, 8.4-month supply in February. This February, however, the backlog of available houses was at 8.6 months and fewer than 3.5 million. This time, though, interest rates are on the rise while housing prices and sales decline.

Given last year's example, it may be best to hold off that house hunt until summer if possible.

"Mortgage rates are still near historic lows, and affordability is at record highs," says Stephanie Singer, spokeswoman for the National Association of Realtors. "The decision if and when to buy a home is a very personal one and depends on many factors."

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet.com. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.

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