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Lincoln Building Projections Look Good for the Industry

Lincoln Building Projections Look Good for the Industry

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Department estimates the city needs to build at least 1,000 new homes and apartment units for each of the next several years to keep up with growth and demand.

Given all the recent development the last several years, that projection is stunning. And its ripple effect is stunningly good news.

New construction brings jobs and business. And the demand for housing is coming from an influx of people who will be contributors to our community and our economy. Between 2010 and 2015, Lincoln’s population grew by 7.3 percent, according to U.S. Census data, well ahead of the 4.1 percent growth of the U.S. as a whole.

That growth has pushed down vacancy rates, as noted by Journal Star reporter Nancy Hicks recently, to a mere 1 percent for owned homes and 4.3 percent for rentals. That’s pushed up both housing prices and rents.

Planners have already OK’d proposals for almost 16,000 homes and apartments, with those projects essentially ready to move ahead.

What’s clear from Hicks’s story and the city is that the demand will be on the lower end of the market. Tighter credit means some potential home buyers may have difficulty obtaining home loans, opting instead for rental units. And some who do qualify for loans will be looking for more affordable single-family homes to buy.

For the last several years, builders have been developing the outskirts of Lincoln, putting up larger and more expensive homes that they’ve had little difficulty selling, as is evident from the low vacancy rate. While the profit margin on a smaller house may well be smaller, the volume of demand, one hopes, will spur developers to build closer to median home value in Lincoln of around $160,000.

Lincoln’s growth brings growing diversity and demographic changes. The face of the city is changing, and its growth is steady and well-paced.

The key to maintaining it and accruing the benefits of that growth will be finding ways to help the people that are fueling it make happy homes here. And that means finding solid jobs and affordable housing, both of which may develop from the growth the planning department is predicting.