The top-line numbers were good: Nationally, home buyers pushed the number of residences under contract for sale in February 29% higher than January, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors and reported by staffer Clare Trapasso. That was 5.1% higher than the same month last year.

But the biggest news is the Realtor's report may well have been the Midwest, long the land of lower prices and lackluster sales when compared with the other three national regions.

The Midwest earned a score of 119.6, a 61.4% jump in homes under contract compared with January and a 7.2% hike over the previous year, according to the report.

There’s a shortage of homes for sale in the Midwestern city of Omaha, says Judy Dooley, a real estate agent at Nebraska Realty. “When homes come up on the market, if they’re not overpriced, they are selling oftentimes in a matter of hours with multiple offers.”

The Omaha-based agent blames the squeeze, in part, on investors who swooped in and picked up many of the cheaper properties when they hit rock-bottom prices during the financial crisis. Many of those same investors aren’t selling, which means there aren’t enough homes on the market that fit the budgets of most first-time buyers.

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