Midlands housing unusually healthy

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By Jeffrey Robb
OMAHA WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

Nebraska’s housing market is one of the hottest in the country, and Iowa sales also are up.

As the national economy and housing across the country try to pull out of the recession, Nebraska’s existing-home sales rate for the second quarter rose 20 percent from the first three months of the year. That ranks the state fifth nationally.

For the year, Nebraska’s rate of existing home sales was up more than 6 percent over the first half of 2008. That ranks Nebraska seventh nationally. Iowa’s sales were up 4 percent for the quarter and just under 2 percent for the year.

Across the country, just six states, including Nebraska and Iowa, posted gains in sales of existing homes for both the quarter and the year, according to statistics released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors.

Looking ahead, several state and local real estate officials said they expect the strong activity to continue in the second half of 2009, although they predict some bumps, too.

An $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers — a key to boosting the housing market — expires at the end of November. Omaha and Lincoln continue to see dips in home prices, which one official attributed to the number of foreclosed homes sitting available.

Mary Kuhlmann, a managing broker for Lincoln’s Woods Bros. Realty and an officer with the Nebraska Association of Realtors, said she sees a steady comeback taking place.

“We hold pretty true to steady-as-you-go climbing,” she said.

Nebraska’s housing market has always been credited with not overheating during the country’s housing boom, so its downturn hasn’t been as jarring as in many states.

Nebraska ranks with Idaho, Hawaii, New York and Wisconsin in housing gains for the quarter.

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