JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Things are looking up for the local housing market, and it's a wakeup call for potential buyers and great news for home sellers.

The Northeast Florida Association of Realtors recently released it's May numbers. Sales are up 21.5 percent since the year before. That's higher than the Florida average, which is up nearly 19 percent.

As for the median sales price, it's also up 20 percent, about $158,500.

Local Realtors say perception is not keeping up with reality.

First-time home buyers Mike and Deanna Wood were so sure they were walking into a buyer's market.

"I expected it to go pretty quick, pretty smooth," Mike said.

"We really thought we were just going like, 'Oh, we're buying at a time when nobody's buying. We're like in a perfect situation and we're just going to pick what we want and go have it,'" Deanna said. "But people really are starting to buy a lot more."

They learned that the hard way. In the last 6 months, they've wanted to make offers on two homes, only to learn they were no longer available.

They had high hopes for one house on the Northside.

"There was an offer just yesterday, so we're looking at it now, but we still could miss it just by less than 24 hours because people really are buying," Deanna said.

The numbers back that up. With sales in northeast Florida up more than 20 percent in the region compared to last year, the president of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors says sellers need to be ready once they put that "for sale" sign out.

"If it's priced right, presented right, it should generate at least an offer in the first two weeks on the market," said Carol Zingone, president of the association. "It's not uncommon to have multiple offers."

Increasing interest rates are also putting pressure on buyers to get bidding.

"They just started creeping up," said Marc Jernigan, of Watson Realty. "In fact, yesterday, they took a little bit of a jump, so now's the time. If you're buying, now's the time 'cause they're not going to go back down any time soon."