It’s a cutthroat competition for a scarce resource, pitting neighbor against neighbor and reinforcing the inequalities the pandemic has so cruelly exposed.

I’m talking of course about the housing market, which continues to hit milestones: record-low inventory; median home sale price up 13 percent from last April; prices up 18 percent in left-for-dead San Francisco, at 15-year highs in relatively affordable cities like Chicago, and out of control in places like Austin, Texas; Boise, Idaho; and Bozeman, Montana. In Bozeman, the owner of a local construction company stood on a winter day downtown with a cardboard sign: “PLEASE SELL ME A HOME.”

Anyone wading into this blood sport has memorized the indignities: If you want the house, waive all contingencies. If you want the house, escalate way over asking. If you want the house, bid before you even see it. If you want the house—sorry, you lost to an…

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