Buffalo County Experiencing Growing Pains


Buffalo County experiencing a growth spurt but it is accompanied by a few growing pains.

Finding adequate housing can be a real challenge. From the farm to the suburbs, more and more people are moving closer to Nebraska's cities. Recent census numbers ranked Buffalo County as the third fastest growing county in the state, tying with Douglas County.

Many people are looking for a small town with big city amenities to settle down in and Kearney fits that bill, but it does come with headaches for those who are searching for a place to live.

"We just recently sold two new homes and we are putting another one in the ground right now," said NP Realty sales associate Trevor Payne.

Selling is no challenge in a college town like Kearney, but finding housing and family homes to buy is difficult. In recent months, houses are only staying on the market an average of 52 days.

"It's on a lower end of things; usually 90–120 days would be averaged in the past. Because of our low inventory houses are selling fast," explained Payne.

"We are the fourth least stressed county in the United States and why Buffalo County continues to grow so well, and it really comes down to industry diversity," said Darren Robinson, president of the Economic Development Council of Buffalo County.

Buffalo County adds 300 to 400 people -- 3.9 percent of its population -- each year, thanks to a strong manufacturing sector, investments in the hospitals, corporate expansions and good schools.

"People in smaller areas, rural areas are really moving to larger areas simply to take advantage of the various different opportunities we have here," said executive director Marion McDermott, of the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce.

"The challenge is there isn't just one thing holding up development, there are so many factors that go into it. Plus, quite frankly, we want more for our dollar so building a $150,000 house today is not feasible. There isn't enough profit there to build it," explained Robinson.

In fact only 55 houses are on the market. From March until August is the busiest time for realtors and with only 55 house currently on the market, they want to remind buyers that patience is key.

"There is housing development going on, just the demand is greater than the supply," said Robinson.

Realtors said often more housing to buy or rent will open up in May once school is out.