An image of housing construction in South Lincoln, Nebraska.
Home buyers are navigating a competitive market. Pictured is a housing development project currently under construction on Yankee Hill Road in South Lincoln.

With the median cost of a house being $275,000, a 10% increase from last year, the housing market in Lincoln can be difficult to find the way through. This can become an uncertain and anxious time for people searching for a home with how much the market has changed.

Realtor Joanne McCoy of Woods Bros Realty said the biggest hurdle has become finding homes that appease all of the buyers’ wants when options on the market remain limited.

“The challenge right now is that there aren’t a lot of options out on the market right now for young buyers or really any buyers that can meet all of their needs as well as their price point,” McCoy said. “So right now, we are having to work with buyers to find out their main needs and what they may be okay with letting go of in order to be able to find a home that works for their budget.”

The focus for buyers has shifted as many have had to forgo wants for homes because of a lack of inventory and affordable options on the market. As of January 2023, the number of listings in Lincoln had dropped by 5.5%, and sales had dropped by 21.5%, according to McCoy. 

Realtors recommend that people check their financial situation before beginning the process. 

“The main thing right away is knowing if you either have enough cash to buy a home or, more likely, that you would have the ability to get pre-approved for a mortgage,” Realtor Matt Kirkland of Giving Realty said. 

Realtors recommend researching things like location, yard size and house proximity to certain areas or places. McCoy said she always makes sure she asks questions each buyer may have a preference for but notes that having a rough idea of significant needs and wants before starting is always important.

“With this kind of market, you are going to have to give some things up and maybe compromise because of how limited the market is at the moment,” McCoy said. “So it is always important to know which needs are highest on your list and what you may be able to go without.”

Part of why buyers are currently having to settle on homes that may not have everything that they need is the lack of options. As of February 2023, there are 524 total homes listed for sale in Lancaster County and of that, 524,142 of them are between $500,000 and $750,000 in price. Options that are more affordable are in rare supply, and buyers are having to battle over the limited options they have.

Kirkland also stressed the importance of knowing what buyers are looking for and what is most important on their list of wants to move quickly if they can find a home that would work for them. Every buyer will have different needs and wants for their home, so shortening the list to what is most important to the buyer is vital in finding a home, he said.

“Location, of course, is always a major point with homes, but for individual buyers, it is always very different,” Kirkland said. “Whether it is a family that wants to be close to an elementary school or a college student that wants to be close to a university, every buyer is going to want something different, so knowing that is always important.”

Sometimes when houses are in price ranges and short supply, buyers may have to bid past the asking price and possibly even forgo having a home inspection which can lead to possible issues with the house being missed by the buyer.

“Of course, having a home inspector is important, but when looking at a house, looking for things that may matter to you specifically, such as the location of large trees or the overall condition of the house,” Realtor Amy Wolsleger of Keller Williams Lincoln said. “Checking on things like this is important because minor things like this can be very important to a buyer, and we want them to be completely happy when they choose to purchase a home.”

Student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduating in 2023. Sports Media and Communications and Broadcasting News double-major. Worked for the Fremont Tribune, Daily Nebraskan as well as with the Fremont Moo baseball team as their soundboard operator during the Summer of 2022.