Nebraska ranks #2! July 26th, 2011
No not the preseason college football ranking poll, but almost as important, Nebrasaka has the second lowest unemployment rate in the country. The numbers for June are in from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the rankings are a follows;
- North Dakota 3.2%
- Nebraska 4.1%
- South Dakota 4.8%
- New Hampshire 4.9%
- Oklahoma 5.3%
With the national average at 9.2% and with California and Nevada coming in at 11.8% and 12.4% respectively it points out that the ecomony is, to a very great degree, a local phenomonem. Our message; don’t base your house buying or selling plans on what you hear from the national news media outlets.
Posted by Susan and Paul Vaccaro
Lincoln No. 1 on list of top cities for college grads June 8th, 2011
Livability.com has just announced the Top 10 Cities for College Grads. The editors of Livability.com selected this list of cities for young professionals starting out after college based on criteria such as: available jobs, cost of living, salaries, population, age and culture. Lincoln, Nebraska, tops the list.
Read Lincoln Journal Star writer Kevin Abourezk’s article here.
View other Lincoln Top 10 Lists here.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
With a tough budget year expected in 2011-12, Mayor Beutler and the City Council are asking for your help in assessing the City’s funding priorities. Please complete the survey using the link below:
Message from Mayor Beutler:
As a community, we need to talk often and openly about what we want City Hall to accomplish and set goals that get us there together. We believe that community involvement is necessary to create successful policy—and that’s why we need your help.
This community survey is one way that Lincoln residents can voice their opinions about important challenges facing our community. This is but one aspect of our decision making, which also includes careful consideration of the City’s long-term priorities, goals, and performance indicators.
If you would like to learn more about how the full process works, including how programs are prioritized for funding, and a description of the current budgeting situation, visit our Taking Charge resource site. Then, when you are ready, click continue to give your input on this year’s budgeting priorities.
Posted by Marcia Murray
Vote Woods Bros for Best of Lincoln June 2nd, 2011
Now’s the time to vote for Woods Bros Realty in the Best of Lincoln awards!
Voting for the 2011 Best of Lincoln will be from June 1st through June 24th. Click here to vote now!
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Woods Bros Realty in Beatrice was voted favorite Real Estate company in Gage County, through a community vote hosted by the Beatrice Daily Sun.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Lincoln named one of ‘Top 10 Cities to Buy a Home’ by Good Morning America January 26th, 2011
By ELISABETH LEAMY
Good Morning America
See original article here
Home values have fallen 26 percent since the market’s peak in 2006 — and as much as 50 percent in some areas. But if you have good credit and plan to buy a home and live there for at least 5 years, it can be a great time to bag a real estate bargain.
So Good Morning America partnered with real estate web site Zillow.com to figure out the top 10 places to buy in 2011.
Zillow looked at four factors to determine the top 10.
Affordability: How many years of income does the median home cost? If the median home costs 2.5 years of salary that area gets a better rank than a city where a home costs 4.5 years of salary.
Unemployment: Zillow looked at areas with low unemployment, using that as a gauge of the health and stability of the local economy. Zillow also looked at the change in unemployment over the past year. This is used as a proxy for the “direction” that a local economy is moving. A city where the unemployment rate dropped 2 percent in the past year will rank better than a city that’s had no change.
Foreclosures: Zillow also analyzed the percentage of homes in each marketplace that have fallen into foreclosure in the past 12 months. Of course, lower is better because it suggests that the local real estate market is healthier.
Price Increases: Zillow looked at areas that have seen an increase in home values over the past quarter and the past year.
Here are the Top 10 Best Places to Buy in 2011 after analyzing those four factors:
- Utica, N.Y.
- Oklahoma City, Okla.
- Rochester, N.Y.
- Pittsburgh, Pa.
- Tulsa, Okla.
- Albany, N.Y.
- Lancaster, Pa.
- Madison, Wis.
- Green Bay, Wis.
- Lincoln, Neb.
10. Lincoln, Neb.
Lincoln has the lowest unemployment rate out of the 124 cities Zillow looked at — just 4 percent. And Lincoln houses are very affordable in relation to Lincoln incomes, with a median home value of $134,600.
Click here to search for Lincoln homes for sale.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Why Home Ownership Matters November 9th, 2010
- Home owners are happier and healthier and enjoy a greater feeling of control over their lives.
- Owning a home is one of the best ways to build longterm wealth. Historically, a home owner’s net worth has ranged 31 to 46 times that of a renter.
- Homeowners are free to redecorat,e renovate and modify their homes as they wish.
- Most Homeowners enjoy stable housing costs — a fixed rate mortgage payment might not change for 15 to 30 years while rent typically increases 3% a year.
- Homeowners can typically deduct mortgage interest and property taxes on their federal individual income tax return
- People who own homes vote more often and volunteer more to their neighborhoods.
- Home owners do not move as frequently as renters, providing more neighborhood stability. In turn, this stability helps reduce crime and supports neighborhood upkeep.
- Children of homeowners do better in school, stay in school longer, are more likely to participate in organized activities and spend less time in front of tv.
- 67% of American households are owner occupied. America is a nation of home owners.
- Homeowners pay 80% to 90% of Federal individual income taxes, contributing to federal programs that benefit all Americans.
- Every home purchased pumps $60,000 into the economy for furniture, home improvements and related items.
- Housing accounts for more than 15% of the national gross Domestic Product, a key driver of our national economy.
- For these reasons and more, home ownership is the American Dream.
Posted by Gene Ward
Biennial budget amendment information October 28th, 2010
On November 2, voters will be asked to make a decision regarding a charter amendment which would allow the city council to change to a two-year budget cycle.
Shall Article IX of the Charter of the City of Lincoln be amended by adding a new section 26a to allow the city to establish and adopt a biennial budget?
[This is an informational article about the proposed charter amendment and is not intended to support or oppose the amendment.]
The charter amendment is a recommendation of Mayor Chris Beutler and has been approved unanimously by the City Council. The City’s Charter Revision Commission, a group of Lincoln citizens, reviewed the charter amendment and recommended its passage to their fellow residents. Biennial budgeting is not a new concept. The State of Nebraska and governments across the nation use biennial budgeting.
City employees currently spend an estimated 18,000 hours per year working on budget issues. Mayor Beutler says changing to the biennial budget could save about 10,000 hours in city staff time during the mid-cycle year. He believes that this time can be used for creating longterm change, change that creates efficiencies and saves tax dollars.
I interviewed two of the city employees experienced in the city budget process to gain insight into the possible effects of the proposed change.
Steve Hubka, the city budget officer, commented that entering the annual budget process immediately after taking office is a very steep learning curve for an incoming mayor. A new mayor begins his term in May and must present his budget to the city council in June. The two-year process, if timed to fall after the year a mayor takes office, would allow them much more time to understand the process and prepare. Hubka does point out that if the budget had been an issue in the election, it would take longer before the mayor could fully act on his campaign pledges.
Dan Murray, budget officer for Lincoln Parks and Recreation, says a biennial budget discussion has been mentioned in years past, and initially he was not in favor of the process. But after considering all the benefits as well as the drawbacks, he has come to feel that the process would be beneficial to the city and that it would save tax dollars. He also mentions the coordination between outgoing and incoming mayors with only one month available to the new mayor to finish preparation on a budget as a drawback to the current system.
When asked what benefits do you see to the city, Hubka mentions the time saved in the off budget year, the mayor’s office having more time to focus on other important issues, and city employees having the ability to do longer range planning, both personally and professionally. Murray comments that tax dollars have been saved over the past few years as staff has been cutback. This has impacted available time and the hours saved by the biennial budget would be extremely helpful.
What if revenue falls below expectations during the two year cycle?
Making adjustments during the budget period when times are tough can be difficult. But Hubka says there will be a mechanism to make adjustments since some change is inevitable. He adds that the city has been very good at budget projections averaging 99.3 percent accuracy of the actual revenue over the past seven years. He accounts this in part to the more stable income sources for the city as compared to the state (30 percent of the city tax revenue comes from the stable property tax.) and to the fact that 70% of the budget is labor costs. If the city is able to negotiate two-year contracts with employees, this large portion of the budget would be very stable during the 2 year period.
We close gaps each year with the next year’s budget process, Hubka says. With a two-year process the key is the method for adjustments. The mayor already has the ability to cut spending authority when revenues fall below projections. Murray adds that in his experience, dealing with shortfalls has been easier when there is more time left in a budget cycle and gives this example. The July ’93 tornado hit just before the end of the fiscal year in August and was an extremely difficult adjustment for his department to make. The October ’95 snowfall which fell 10 months before the end of the cycle enabled the department to adjust plans and absorb the unexpected expense over the remaining fiscal year.
Thank you for taking time to review information about this amendment.
Please vote on November 2. A sample ballot can be viewed at http://lancaster.ne.gov/election/sampleGN10.pdfThis information was compiled by Marcia Murray, Woods Bros Realty. The sources for this article are listed below, and it is accurate to the best of her knowledge. Lincoln Journal Star, October 25, 2010 Interviews with:
- Steve Hubka, City Budget Officer
- Dan Murray, Lincoln Parks and Recreation Budget Officer
Posted by Marcia Murray
Nebraska Economic Development briefing Dec. 2 October 20th, 2010
All homeowners and all Nebraskans might well be interested in the Dec. 2 briefing by the The Nebraska Department of Economic Development held at the State Capitol. Housing will be one of many topics discussed and it should be an excellent opportunity to hear about what is happening across the state. It will be an opportunity as well to meet with and make comments to key Nebraska leadership. Reservations are required. For more details check the link that follows.
Posted by Marcia Murray
Lincoln No. 3 on the list of perfect spots for young families October 6th, 2010
By ERIN ANDERSEN / Lincoln Journal Star
A new survey by Parents magazine lists Lincoln as the third best city in the country to raise a baby.
What makes Lincoln great? Top cities were ones that combined affordable housing, safety, good neighbors, access to pediatricians and babysitters and plenty of baby swings at the park.
The first-ever survey by Parents found that Scottsdale, Az. was the best place for young families, followed by Fort Wayne, Ind., and then Lincoln.
Parents found that Lincoln is a breath of fresh air, literally. It was the only city in the survey not to exceed the ozone or particle pollution thresholds on any day in 2009. Healthy air adds up to a lower rate of childhood asthma, according to Parents.
The survey gave Lincoln the following grades:
Child care, A-
Family safety, B-
Fun for you and baby, A+
Infant health, B-
Money matters, B+
“Babies aren’t fussy about their zip code. But for moms and dads, their hometown during those important early years of parenthood can make a big difference in quality of life,” said Dana Points, editor in chief of Parents.
Other cities rounding out the top 10 are: Pittsburgh, Pa.; Portland, Ore.; Madison, Wisc.; Phoenix, Az.; St. Paul, Minn.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Boston, Mass.
Omaha ranked 12th overall.
The complete results of the survey, as well as a listing of cities ranked 11-100 appear in the November issue of Parents and online here.
For a slide show featuring all of Parents’ Ten Best cities click here.
To conduct the survey, Parents used U.S. Census information to assemble an initial list of the 100 most populated U.S. cities. Each city was then assessed using 35 predetermined factors pediatricians, child development experts and mommy bloggers said young families should consider when deciding where to live. The magazine then contacted government sources and non-profit organizations and conducted independent reporting to obtain the data for each city. The overall rankings represent how well the cities met the magazine’s family-friendly criteria.
Copyright Lincoln Journal Star. See original article here.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Open House at North Creek Villas to start Sunday March 4th, 2010
Woods Bros Realty and First Choice Homes are pleased to present an ”Open House at North Creek Villas” March 7-14 at the townhome subdivision at North 20th Street and Fletcher in Lincoln, Neb.
Nine brand-new townhomes are for sale in North Creek Villas, and they include two-bedroom ranch plans and two-bedroom two-story plans. All feature two-stall garages and are priced from $118,400 to $144,400. The convenient location offers easy access to I-80 and North 27th Street.
For the event, the homes will be open Sundays from 1-5 p.m. and Monday through Thursday from 4-7 p.m., with no opens scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
First Choice Homes, is offering various incentives through the promotion. In addition, there is still an $8,000 first-time and $6,500 repeat home buyer tax credit available, not to mention already low interest rates.
The builder, First Choice Homes has built hundreds of homes in the Lincoln area for over 10 years. The company has been awarded an Honorable Mention award from the Better Business Bureau of Nebraska. First Choice Homes has teamed up with Gotcha Covered to select everything you need for your new home from carpet to kitchen cabinets, tile, light fixtures and all your home decorating needs. Their designers work with you for no extra charge.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
The Top 5 Reasons to Vote for the Lincoln Haymarket Arena March 3rd, 2010
From the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce
1.IT WILL STRENGTHEN OUR ECONOMY
The Lincoln Haymarket Arena will generate $800 million in economic activity in our community during the three-year construction process. After it’s complete, Lincoln will see $260 million in annual economic activity – the equivalent of 65 home Husker football games.
2.IT WILL CREATE GOOD JOBS
The Lincoln Haymarket Arena will create thousands of jobs during the three years the arena is built. These good-paying jobs during construction will be added when we need them the most – during a tough economy. In the future, the Lincoln Haymarket Arena will add more than 1,000 permanent jobs at the arena and in the surrounding retail, office and commercial area. We need to do everything we can to keep and create good paying jobs, while we continue building a bright future in our community.
3.IT WON’T INCREASE PROPERTY TAXES
The ballot measure is clear: It includes language specifically guaranteeing that “APPROVAL OF THIS BOND ISSUE WILL NOT CAUSE ANY INCREASE IN THE PROPERTY TAX LEVY MILLAGE LIMIT OF THE CITY.” In addition, an economic growth analysis predicts that the Lincoln Haymarket Arena project will generate enough revenue to provide an additional $3 million in sales tax receipts to support city services. This helps ensure a stable budget for our city, reducing the likelihood of additional tax increases in the future.
4.IT REFLECTS PUBLIC INPUT AND ENSURES INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT
The Lincoln Haymarket Arena project is the result of years of public input through community meetings throughout Lincoln. The feedback received resulted in important changes to the Arena plan. The Joint Public Agency that will be responsible for the project provides transparency and oversight of the expenditures for the project. Guaranteed audits will ensure that no funds are transferred from the general fund to the Arena project.
5.WE CAN’T AFFORD TO DO NOTHING
We’ve outgrown Pershing Auditorium. The building is over 50 years old and lacks the capacity, production space and infrastructure to support modern performances, concerts and sporting events. It is obsolete and costs more to keep open than it brings in. Doing nothing means we will forfeit having the Husker basketball team play at the arena and risk losing state high school tournaments – a Lincoln tradition. It also limits the possibility of new youth sports fields and other affordable family-friendly events that bring people together in Lincoln. In these times, doing nothing is not an option. The Lincoln Haymarket Arena is an opportunity we can’t afford to pass up.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Lincoln’s steady economy featured in USA TODAY February 23rd, 2010
Dennis Cauchon of USA TODAY recently reported on Lincoln’s steady economy. Read the excerpt of the article below, or the full article here.
To understand why some places are winning and others losing, USA TODAY examined a pair of No. 2s — the metropolitan areas of Lincoln, Neb., which has the second-lowest metro area unemployment rate in the United States, and Merced, Calif., which has the second-highest.
Lincoln symbolizes a swath of the central USA with economies that didn’t have wild highs and lows during the last decade.
Lincoln: Steady as she goes
Lincoln’s economy has been good for so long that it’s hard for many there to remember bad times.
The unemployment rate in the vibrant metropolitan area of 296,000 is just 4.1%, second-lowest in the nation.
The rate has never been above 5% since the Bureau of Labor Statistics starting tracking it 20 years ago.
“It’s like we’re on our own island out here,” says Jason Perry, a Wisconsin-born rental car manager who moved to Nebraska in 2008, when his wife, Robin, got a job in nearby Omaha, which also has low unemployment.
Lincoln is home to a major research university and national and regional headquarters for several substantial companies. It is surrounded by farms that export worldwide.
The metro area — built on the edge of the Great Plains — has the good fortune of being at the convergence of several positive trends in a dangerously weak national economy. Lincoln is:
• A college town, home to 24,000 students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Nine of the 10 metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates have major universities.
• A state capital, benefiting from a stable workforce of government jobs.
• Part of a farm economy at a time when farm income has been at or near record highs.
Just as important, Lincoln missed the real estate bubble, so it’s not suffering withdrawal from a construction boom caused by too-easy credit.
Tom Henning, chief executive of Assurity Life Insurance of Lincoln, can’t recall any significant speculative office buildings or shopping centers getting built in Lincoln during this decade’s national real estate boom that ended in 2007.
During an interview, Henning calls the company’s head of real estate lending on a speaker phone to check his memory.
Investment chief Bill Schmeeckle pauses for a long time as he recalls what’s been built in Lincoln during the past several years.
“No. None,” he says.
Henning says a real estate developer who approached Assurity Life about financing a speculative building would have been met with the common-sense question: “You mean you want to build it, but you don’t have any tenants yet?”
Construction in Lincoln proceeded at a steady, moderate pace during the last decade — and that continues today.
Assurity Life is building a new $53 million corporate headquarters. The university is developing a new research park. In May, voters will decide whether to approve bonds to start a $334 million arena for the university’s basketball team.
The city’s historic Haymarket District continues to slowly but steadily add new businesses.
The Bar & Grill has hung a sign at its future location: “Now Accepting Applications for All Positions.”
Trent Taylor, 28, who recently quit his job as a cook, says he’s not worried about finding work.
“There’s work around, just not always what you want,” says Taylor, smoking a cigarette outside a government career center in downtown Lincoln.
Lincoln hasn’t been immune to the recession. A total of 6,800 people were unemployed in December in a labor force of 167,000. That’s an increase of 1,150 from a year earlier.
“We’ve absolutely had job losses,” says Eric Thompson, a University of Nebraska economist. “It just doesn’t feel like the worst recession in 30 years or longer.”
One reason: Nebraska has among the nation’s highest rates of people holding multiple jobs, Thompson says. That means people can lose one job or be employed below their skill level, yet not count as unemployed.
Nebraska, with its high level of education, and Lincoln, in particular, have a labor force that’s attractive to employers.
“We might have someone with an economics degree working as a clerk,” Henning says.
Lincoln’s diversified economy has more than 100 companies and agencies that employ 250 or more workers, including a robust manufacturing sector. Kawasaki makes New York subway cars here, along with all-terrain vehicles and Jet Skis.
Nick Cusick, chief executive of IMS Corp., says manufacturing has been helped by electricity rates 25% below the national average.
A key reason for the low rates: Nebraska is the only state that generates all its power from government-owned utilities.
Thriving entrepreneurship and the lack of a major union presencealso have helped keep Nebraska manufacturers competitive, says Cusick, who started his company with a high school buddy in 1974.
Today, Cusick and his friend are still 50-50 partners in a company that employs 200, down from a peak of 275 in 2008.
IMS makes football goalposts, basketball hoops and electronic signs and scoreboards. The PGA Tour’s electronic leader board is one of its products.
Cusick thinks his region’s “common sense” culture helps Lincoln avoid economic peaks and valleys.
Nebraska companies typically are reluctant to take on debt because of this conservative culture, he says. Nebraska’s constitution even prohibits the state from borrowing money.
“The Nebraska sensibility — whether it’s in the public sector or the private sector — is to be cautious,” Cusick says.
Cusick vacations in Scottsdale, Ariz., every March and November. Between visits there, new shopping centers would appear there during the boom years. “Lot of vacancies now,” he says.
Lincoln was different that way. No boom, no bust. Still hiring.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Lincoln makes a number of “great” lists in 2009 January 4th, 2010
By MATT OLBERDING / Lincoln Journal Star
Fifth-best place for business and careers.
Top city in which to find a job.
Second-most-likely city to see a housing recovery.
It seems that in 2009 Lincoln popped up on more “best of” lists than ever before.
Those kudos make for interesting newspaper stories and look good on Chamber of Commerce marketing materials, but do they really have any effect on economic development?
Wendy Birdsall believes they do.
“They play a big role because we’re getting accolades, we’re getting put on the map,” said Birdsall, president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.
“It does cause people to take a second look” at Lincoln, she said.
As evidence that people notice, Birdsall cited an October trip by city and chamber officials to Dallas to visit with site selectors and officials of companies that have Lincoln operations.
“People mentioned, ‘You’ve been making a lot of these lists,’” she said. “They do notice it.”
Read the rest of the article here.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
There is no place like Nebraska November 2nd, 2009
Recently I read that fewer residents are leaving Nebraska. The article said we lost more residents to other states than we gained in 2008 and that this has been the trend for the past 13 years. It went on to state that in 2008 the rate of departure from Nebraska to other states significantly slowed. This does not come as a surprise to me, Nebraska has much to offer. We just need to shout it out more.
I’m a Nebraska transplant, but since I’ve been here over 36 years, I feel as if Lincoln is my hometown. This is where I belong, where I feel comfortable. Simply put, I do love Lincoln, Nebraska.
In my job as Relocation Director I have had opportunities to sell Lincoln to individuals and families considering a move to our great city. It is always a thrill to tell folks about the many great features of Lincoln. Whether they are coming from out east with so many art & entertainment opportunities or maybe Minnesota with so many lakes, I get to tell them about our many beautiful parks, miles & miles & miles of bike paths, our many venues for the arts and other cultural events, the numerous golf courses, the great public & private schools that serve our community, the prestigious health facilities and great doctors that serve the region, our museums, universities, educational & sports activities for children and adults. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Lincoln has so much to offer and I love every chance I get to sell it!
My husband and I have visited a lot of cities in this country, and there are many that we have enjoyed. Driving back into Nebraska, whether we are coming in from the west to the sandhills or from Iowa over the river and the bluffs, is always exciting and beautiful to us. Then pulling into Lincoln–our clean, safe, vibrant city–and we just marvel at how fortunate we are to live here.
In the next few years I will be anxious to see if Nebraska can reverse the trend and see more growth than loss. We have a lot to offer individuals, families and companies that want to share our great state and city. Lincoln is the BEST!
Posted by Jan Tucknott