The Omaha metropolitan area has been identified by real estate information site Trulia as one of the 10 healthiest housing markets headed into 2013.
Specifically, the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area ranked seventh. Houston was at the top of the pack, followed by San Francisco.
Trulia's top 10 list was created based on what it considers the three basic characteristics of a healthy market: job growth, vacancy rates and foreclosure inventory.
“The healthy markets that made the list have strong job growth, which bodes well for housing demand,” said Jed Kolko, Trulia's chief economist. Trulia collected job information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; vacancy rate information from the Postal Service; and foreclosure data from RealtyTrac.
That Omaha rose toward the top of a national housing list was exciting but came as a bit of a surprise to David Matney of Alliance Real Estate, who also is president of the Omaha Area Board of Realtors.
“It's great news for our market,” he said. “It's still a deal, though, where you have to work hard. It's not like it comes easy.”
Omaha area sellers must spruce up and price homes right, Matney said, adding: “It's still a price war and a beauty contest.”
The Trulia top 10 have in common vacancy rates that are low enough to encourage new construction but not so low that inventory and sales are restrained. They also have a low foreclosure inventory, as foreclosures tend to hold back recovery.
“With fewer foreclosures on the market, new inventory will come from new construction or homeowners wanting to sell,” said Kolko. “Rising prices will bring out more sellers, especially if price increases lift them back above water.”
Trulia's lineup of healthy metro areas is as follows: Houston; San Francisco; Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Md.; San Antonio; Austin, Texas; Seattle; Omaha; Peabody, Mass; Fort Worth, Texas; and Louisville, Ky.-Ind.
Rising home prices weren't included as part of Trulia's definition of a healthy market.
“Just as losing lots of weight might be part of an unhealthy cycle of yo-yo dieting, big price gains aren't necessarily a sign of a healthy housing market if they're being driven by a post-crash rebound, rather than solid fundamentals,” Kolko said.
Of the 10 chosen, he said: “They have solid fundamentals without the extreme price swings of Las Vegas, Phoenix or Detroit.”
Trulia's research showed that asking prices for homes in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area were up about 8 percent since last year, and job growth was up about 2.5 percent, signaling improvement in housing and job markets.
For would-be homeowners, that's both good and bad news, Trulia's press release said: “Housing is getting less affordable, but job prospects are improving.”
Tracking attitudes on home ownership
Real estate information site Trulia since 2008 has tracked attitudes toward homeownership. Harris Interactive conducted the online survey in mid-November. Highlights of the latest survey include:
» Americans are more bullish on buying homes, as 27 percent of consumers feel more positive about homeownership than they did six months ago; 19 percent reported feeling more negative.
» About 31 percent of renters said they planned to buy a home in the next two years, up from 22 percent in January 2011.
» Some consumers still remain skeptical, however, as 72 percent said homeownership is part of their personal American Dream, below the 77 percent that reported that same sentiment in January 2010.
» Millennials, people 18 to 34 years old, haven't completely written off homeownership, despite growing up in the boom and bust. About 93 percent of renters in this age group plan to buy a home someday, and 43 percent of young adults already own a home.
» Millennials, however, have different expectations about the housing market than older generations. For instance, 37 percent expect home prices to rise, compared with 49 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds and 55 percent of those 55 years and older. And 20 percent of millennials surveyed expected mortgage rates to fall, compared with 12 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds and 14 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds.
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