‘We’ve never seen it like this’: Housing market causing problems for Omaha buyers

Typically in this area, when the market is healthy, more than 3,500 homes are on the market. But now, that number sits around 500.
Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 5:28 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Selling a home in Omaha right now might be easy, but buying a new one is a completely different story.

“In the 17 years I’ve been in business, we have never seen it like this,” said local realtor Jennifer Gatzemeyer. “It is crazy right now.”

Gatzemeyer, who works with Nebraska Realty, says inventory is incredibly low, which drives prices up and makes for a very competitive and quick-selling market.

“Right now we have about 500 homes on the market, half of those are new construction, half of those existing, and in a normal, healthy market, we have about 3,000 to 3,5000 available at any given time,” she said.

When a home goes on the market, buyers are so eager to claim one that they’re willing to pay much more than the listing price.

“If your budget is, say, $225,000, you really need to be looking at $200,000 homes so that you have that wiggle room to go up,” Gatzemeyer says. “At $225,000, if that’s your max budget, those homes are likely selling for 20, in some cases $30,000 over asking price, and that would just put you out of the range and that can be heartbreaking for these buyers.”

One Omaha family knows this from personal experience. Raquel Vasquez and her husband have been looking for a new home since January.

After putting offers on several homes, they kept getting overbid.

“On one for sure that I know, they went over. It was $20,000 over what the asking was, I believe,” Vasquez tells 6 News. “The market is hot right now. And that just proves that people are looking for houses and really wanting to get into houses.”

At one point, Vasquez and her husband put two different offers on two different homes at the same time, knowing the market is competitive, but hoping to get one of the homes.

“All of them were sold, and we didn’t get either one of them,” she said.

Gatzemeyer says right now, if you’re looking to buy, you and your representative need to be incredibly aggressive. Preparing to pay more than list price, skipping the home inspection, and paying for your own closing costs may be possibilities, too.

Luckily, after months of searching, falling in love with, and losing homes, Vasquez and her family finally got one in the knick of time.

“On this one, they immediately accepted the offer — which was good because I was to the point where I was done, not looking any more, I’ll give it a break and start over if I have to.”

Although they’re still in the early stages of the process, Vasquez is remaining cautiously optimistic. “But, I’m very excited,” she said.

The low inventory also makes for a competitive market for the nearly 3,000 realtors in the Omaha area. Many of them, including Gatzemeyer, rely on friend or client referrals.

And unfortunately for everyone, it seems there’s no definite end in sight.

“I think we all kind of hope soon it at least balances itself out to a reasonable market again. But we just don’t know,” Gatzemeyer said.

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