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Biz Bits: 17% of Nebraskans face foreclosure risk, study finds
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BIZ BITS

Biz Bits: 17% of Nebraskans face foreclosure risk, study finds

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Business reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

A federal eviction moratorium is ending, possibly forcing millions of people from their homes, causing a spike in homelessness and devastating low-income communities of color that have already been hardest hit by the pandemic.

There's been a lot of talk about what the expiration of the national eviction moratorium on Saturday might mean for renters.

There are certainly Nebraskans struggling to pay their rent who might face eviction because of the expiration. But a study suggests that the expiration of a moratorium on foreclosures on the same day might have a bigger effect on the state.

The study released last week by QuoteWizard, a subsidiary of LendingTree, shows that 17.2% of Nebraskans are at risk of foreclosure, a number eclipsed only by South Dakota and Alaska. That's more than twice the U.S. average of 8.1%.

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In Lincoln, real estate firm CoreLogic reported that 1.9% of mortgages were seriously delinquent in April, more than three times the rate in April 2020.

More people, 21%, are facing eviction in the state, but that's lower than the national average and ranks quite low compared with other states, according to the study.

Hot home prices

One of the reasons the study cites for rising foreclosure rates is soaring home prices, something that Lincoln continues to experience.

While home sales have leveled off this year in the Lincoln area, prices have continued to soar.

Through the first half of the year, the median price of existing homes sold in Lincoln and surrounding areas is up more than 17%, while the median price of newly constructed homes is up nearly 8%, according to the Realtors Association of Lincoln.

Since 2017, the median price of existing homes locally has gone up nearly 45%, much more than median incomes have increased in the area.

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Lincoln's housing market ranks

With rising prices and sales numbers continuing to be near all-time records, it would seem that Lincoln would be an attractive real estate market, but it depends on which source you follow.

Personal finance website WalletHub recently ranked Lincoln as the third-best city overall for first-time homebuyers, and tops in the Midwest. SmartAsset, another personal finance website, ranked Lincoln as the 16th-best city for first-time homebuyers.

Lincoln also ranks fairly high as a good place to flip houses, coming in 32nd in a ranking from WalletHub.

On the other end of the spectrum, Lincoln ranked near the bottom in a list of emerging housing markets with the most potential. The city was ranked 283 out of the 300 top metro areas in the ranking put together by the Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com.

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Airport farmland prices take off

Higher commodity prices, farm disaster payments and continued low interest rates are among the conditions that have driven up farmland prices recently.

According to the latest Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Survey, ag land prices in Nebraska are up 6% this year, after increasing 3% last year.

Prior to that, farmland values in the state had dropped every year since 2014.

One landowner that is benefiting from the higher land prices is the Lincoln Airport.

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The airport owns about 650 acres of dryland cropland, about 260 acres that's in hay and another 90-acre parcel of pasture land.

It rents out those parcels and at a recent public auction accepted bids that in total were 94% higher than what it got the last time it held a public auction in 2015.

Bob McNally, the airport's operations director, said the increase in cash rent the airport is getting reflects current commodity prices. Corn, for example, was trading around $5.50 a bushel on Thursday. Around the same time in 2015, it was about $3.75.

Listing the lists

Regular readers of this column know I sometimes like to end it with a rundown of recent rankings of Lincoln and/or Nebraska in national reports. The latest:

* Fifth-best city for renters (WalletHub)

* Seventh-best city for an affordable wedding (SmartAsset)

Go to Journalstar.com/bizbuzz to read more Biz Buzz posts.

Have a business news tip? Send it to businessnews@journalstar.com.

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Business reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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