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Across the country, inventory was down 8.2% in January from a year earlier for properties priced below $250,000. (Photo: Bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) – Before beginning the hunt for their first house, Tennessee residents Brittany and Craig Murphy pared their student debt, saved for a down payment and got an income boost from her new job. The major hurdle was what came next.

In the last month, the couple lost two bidding wars on Nashville homes to competitors willing to pay more than 10% above the asking price.

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