While sales of distressed properties have shrunk this year, ‘normal’ home sales are nearly 5% higher than they were this time last year.  In fact, normal home sales are at their highest level since August 2008, despite increasing prices and higher competition.  In the West, short-term increases in prices and cash sales have reinvigorated the market and given hope for the future.  Heavy competition on non-distressed properties has been a driving factor in the rise in prices.