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So You Want to Buy a Piece of Land?

by Connie Yoshimura

It looks good.  Has tall trees.  Even a view of the mountains and a peek-a-boo view of the inlet.  But, what else do you need to know?  First, does the current zoning allow for what  you want to do with the property.  Whether it is a potential tract for a new subdivision or an already platted lot, there are zoning restrictions that run with the parcel.   You may want to build a triplex but the zoning only allows for a duplex.  To build the triplex, you would need to rezone the property which would require a rezone application  to the Planning and Zoning Commission for approval as well as to the assembly which has the final approval for all rezones.  That process can take anywhere from six  months to a year depending on the complexity of the rezone and the schedule of P and Z and the Anchorage Assembly. 

Soils may look good initially with natural vegetation but we all know looks are deceiving so the careful buyer will want to have some test holes dug and the sample soils evaluated by professional engineers.  Whether building a subdivision with roads/water/sewer or buying a lot to build a new home on, test holes can give you a good idea of the excavation costs and  costs for the haul off of bad soils and the haul in of dry gravel.  These extra costs do not add appraised value to the vertical structure you are planning on building.   Are the easements for gas and electric on the front or back of the lot?  Easements constrain placement of the structure. You also  want to make sure you have the appropriate square footage available for your footprint. No more than 30% of a lot can be utilized for a two-story home and no more than 40% for a ranch.  That lot coverage ratio includes porches and garages. 

There are a number of infill vacant lots in Anchorage, particularly in the older parts of Anchorage.  However, in most instances, water and sewer pigtails are not thru the right-of-way and so a buyer will need to tear up the street to connect to the water/sewer main.  Even if by chance, the pigtails were extended through the right-of-way, they will most likely not be the right size or type material and will need to be replaced.  Another cost that does not add value.

Will there by ‘off-site’ costs that you will have to pay to develop the property?   Off-site costs can include a requirement to pave alleys which are common in older neighborhoods like South Addition and Mountain View.  A neighbor may have water/sewer to his property but that doesn’t necessarily mean the main has been extended to your lot line.  The same is true for gas and electric.  The access to the property may look like a road but it may, instead, be a drive-way that will need to be improved road standards before you are allowed to build on your lot. 

Finally, are there covenants, codes and restrictions on the property?  Even if they are forty years old and by all appearances have been violated numerous times over the years, read them carefully.  There is always a pesky neighbor who may not like you building on that vacant lot they’ve used as open space for several years.

So You Want To Buy a Piece of Land

by Connie Yoshimura

It looks good. Has tall trees. Even a view of the mountains and a peek-a-boo view of the inlet.  But, what else do you need to know? First, does the current zoning allow for what you want to do with the property.  Whether it is a potential tract for a new subdivision or an already platted lot, there are zoning restrictions that run with the parcel. You may want to build a triplex but the zoning only allows for a duplex. To build the triplex, you would need to rezone the property which would require a rezone application to the Planning and Zoning Commission for approval as well as to the assembly which has the final approval for all rezones. That process can take anywhere from six months to a year depending on the complexity of the rezone and the schedule of P and Z and the Anchorage Assembly. 

Soils may look good initially with natural vegetation but we all know looks are deceiving so the careful buyer will want to have some test holes dug and the sample soils evaluated by professional engineers. Whether building a subdivision with roads/water/sewer or buying a lot to build a new home on, test holes can give you a good idea of the excavation costs and costs for the haul off of bad soils and the haul in of dry gravel. These extra costs do not add appraised value to the vertical structure you are planning on building. Are the easements for gas and electric on the front or back of the lot? Easements constrain placement of the structure. You also  want to make sure you have the appropriate square footage available for your footprint. No more than 30% of a lot can be utilized for a two-story home and no more than 40% for a ranch. That lot coverage ratio includes porches and garages. 

There are a number of infill vacant lots in Anchorage, particularly in the older parts of Anchorage. However, in most instances, water and sewer pigtails are not thru the right-of-way and so a buyer will need to tear up the street to connect to the water/sewer main. Even if by chance, the pigtails were extended through the right-of-way, they will most likely not be the right size or type material and will need to be replaced. Another cost that does not add value. 

Will there by ‘off-site’ costs that you will have to pay to develop the property? Off-site costs can include a requirement to pave alleys which are common in older neighborhoods like South Addition and Mountain View. A neighbor may have water/sewer to his property but that doesn’t necessarily mean the main has been extended to your lot line. The same is true for gas and electric. The access to the property may look like a road but it may, instead, be a drive-way that will need to be improved road standards before you are allowed to build on your lot.  

Finally, are there covenants, codes and restrictions on the property? Even if they are forty years old and by all appearances have been violated numerous times over the years, read them carefully. There is always a pesky neighbor who may not like you building on that vacant lot they’ve used as open space for several years.

Live. Work. Play. In Downtown Anchorage.

by Connie Yoshimura

Is it a myth or reality that Anchorage citizens want to live downtown? According to the new housing report published this week by the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation “millennials to seniors, want to live close to downtown and in smaller-scale housing.” The AEDC 2018 housing survey composed of 1,114 individuals with a slight over representation of seniors, with 15.7 percent of respondents being over the age of 65. Sixty-three percent of respondents were married or part of a domestic partnership while 18% of respondents said they lived alone. Seventy-three percent of respondents had a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and forty-five percent had a minimum income over $100,000

This survey is an excellent snap shot of downtown buyers—affluent, older and well-educated with a smattering of sophisticated millennial buyers who frequently have migrated north to Alaska from lower 48 urban areas. According to the survey, 83% of respondents preferred a one level single family home while 64% would prefer a single level multi-level home. Forty-eight percent said they would consider living in a townhouse or condo.    

Although Anchorage citizens overwhelming prefer to live in a single family home, a recent change to the Title 21 land use ordinance created accessory dwelling units in an R1 single family zone. According to a recent MOA official, only ten such permits have been issued since the ordinance took place and only 18% of respondents are interested in living in an ADU. Senior housing, apartment living and micro-housing also fell well below the 20% level of interest. Yet, Anchorage planning officials continue to press and encourage higher density development, including mixed-use development which is retail on the first floor with three or four stories of apartments above. Only 9% of residents want to live in an apartment complex with six or more units.

One builder in Anchorage, Hultquist Homes, has made a commitment to lower density development in downtown Anchorage. Since 2009, Hultquist Homes has built, is building or committed to building over 40 housing units, including townhouses, duplex flats, lofts, small single family condos and luxury one level units about to come out of the ground on Coastal Place, directly behind Petersen Towers. These new housing units begin as low as $350,000 upwards to $1 million plus. It’s a commitment to the redevelopment of downtown Anchorage and the Live. Work. Play initiative that I am proud to be a part of. These homes are being built without subsidies or tax abatements that are frequently provided to larger residential developments which according to its own AEDC report, less than 50% of respondents want to live in.  

For more information on downtown properties for sale, contact me at 907-229-2703. I look forward to hearing from you.

Live. Work. Play. In Downtown Anchorage.

by Connie Yoshimura

Is it a myth or reality that Anchorage citizens want to live downtown? According to the new housing report published this week by the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation “millennials to seniors, want to live close to downtown and in smaller-scale housing.” The AEDC 2018 housing survey composed of 1,114 individuals with a slight over representation of seniors, with 15.7 percent of respondents being over the age of 65. Sixty-three percent of respondents were married or part of a domestic partnership while 18% of respondents said they lived alone. Seventy-three percent of respondents had a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and forty-five percent had a minimum income over $100,000

This survey is an excellent snap shot of downtown buyers—affluent, older and well-educated with a smattering of sophisticated millennial buyers who frequently have migrated north to Alaska from lower 48 urban areas. According to the survey, 83% of respondents preferred a one level single family home while 64% would prefer a single level multi-level home. Forty-eight percent said they would consider living in a townhouse or condo.

Although Anchorage citizens overwhelming prefer to live in a single family home, a recent change to the Title 21 land use ordinance created accessory dwelling units in an R1 single family zone. According to a recent MOA official, only ten such permits have been issued since the ordinance took place and only 18% of respondents are interested in living in an ADU. Senior housing, apartment living and micro-housing also fell well below the 20% level of interest. Yet, Anchorage planning officials continue to press and encourage higher density development, including mixed-use development which is retail on the first floor with three or four stories of apartments above. Only 9% of residents want to live in an apartment complex with six or more units.

One builder in Anchorage, Hultquist Homes, has made a commitment to lower density development in downtown Anchorage. Since 2009, Hultquist Homes has built, is building or committed to building over 40 housing units, including townhouses, duplex flats, lofts, small single family condos and luxury one level units about to come out of the ground on Coastal Place, directly behind Petersen Towers. These new housing units begin as low as $350,000 upwards to $1 million plus. It’s a commitment to the redevelopment of downtown Anchorage and the Live. Work. Play initiative that I am proud to be a part of. These homes are being built without subsidies or tax abatements that are frequently provided to larger residential developments which according to its own AEDC report, less than 50% of respondents want to live in.

For more information on downtown properties for sale, contact me at 907-229-2703. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Test Your Real Estate Knowledge!

by Connie Yoshimura

1. What is the average rent for a two 

bedroom apartment in Anchorage?

A.   $800     

B.   $1,000   

C.   $1,200

 

2. Does the landlord include utilities in 

the above rental amount?

 

3. What does a three bedroom single 

family home rent for in Anchorage?

A.   $1,849  

B.   $2,149     

C.   $2,349

 

4. What is Anchorage’s vacancy factor?

A.   6.2%       

B.   4.2%       

C.   7.75%

5. What is the vacancy factor in the Mat-Su Borough?

A.   7.3%           

B.   8.3%          

C.   4.6%

 

6. When my son or daughter grows up, I want them to earn a good living by becoming:

A.   Lawyer     

B.   Chef          

C.   Carpenter

 

 

7. Have Anchorage condos increased or decreased in value in 2018 and by how much?

A.   Increased by 3.2%     

B.   Decreased by 1.6%        

C.   Stayed the same


8. How many million dollar homes have sold in Eagle River in 2018?

A.   One     

B.   Three    

C.   None

 

9. How many have sold in Anchorage?

A.   Five         

B.   Eight          

C.   Twelve         

D.   Sixteen

 

10. Averages are only indicators.  Has the average sales price for single family homes increased or decreased recently?

 

11. What is the average sales price of a single family home in Anchorage?

 

12. How many single family building permits have been issued through August 2018?

 

13. What was the average price of a hillside lot that sold in 2018?

A.   $140,000      

B.   $185,000         

C.   $220,000

 

14. What is the largest issue facing the real estate market today?

A.   Lack of inventory         

B.   Affordability            

C.   Alaska’s aging inventory

 

Answer Key   1. C   2. Yes   3. B   4. A   5. A   6. C   7. B   8. C   9. D   10. Increased   11. $377,000   12. 114   13. B   14. All of the Above


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Dwell Realty
561 E. 36th Ave., Suite 200
Anchorage AK 99503
907-646-3600