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A Statewide Look at Supply and Demand

by Connie Yoshimura

As you might have suspected, Anchorage inventory has continued to increase over the past few weeks. Spring and early summer is the time of year when sellers like to put their homes on the market and our uncertain economic outlook has no doubt helped increase Anchorage’s inventory. A snap shot of a week’s inventory of available homes in May when compared to the same time in 2015, shows a 64% increase in active for sale single family homes. On May 2, 2015, there were 428 homes for sale.  May 2, 2016, there were 702. 

Not all Alaska communities are showing such a dramatic increase in inventory and some inventories have actually declined. Wasilla, as you might expect, has had a 32.36 percent increase in inventory, an increase from 343 to 454.  Kenai had a 55% increase, from 60 to 93. Chugiak has increased from 30 homes to 49 and its neighbor, Eagle River, has gone from 134 homes for sale to 171, an increase of 27.61%.

Big Lake, originally a cabin and recreational community, has developed into a year round community with larger lakefront homes. It’s had a 39% decline in available homes. There are now only 37 homes for sale compared to 61 a year ago.  You can expect that market to further tighten up as the summer recreational season takes hold.  Likewise, Homer has had a 14% decline in available homes, from 114 to 98.  Homer, Halibut Cove have established their communities as the go to place for upscale visitors as well as Alaskans. Sitka, Seward are also stable with little or no movement up or down. So it’s a mixed bag of supply and demand. It’s hard to explain why Talkeetna and Willow have a decreasing supply of homes for sale while Wasilla, the hub of the Mat-Su, has had such an increase.   

However, neither Anchorage nor Wasilla, has reached a saturation point of oversupply. Anchorage, in particular, is still a long ways from the high water mark of 1,299 homes for sale in June 2007.


The Return of the Ranch Home

by Connie Yoshimura

As Alaska’s age profile shifts upward and the baby boomers begin to slow down and decide to stop climbing the stairs of their two story homes, the return of the ranch is upon us. Between $300,000 and $600,000 there are 44 active ranch homes listed for sale. Frankly, this number was a surprise to me. So are the 27 pending sales and the 33 ranch homes already closed in 2016. This is a sleeper area of the market that has suddenly come alive, although not without its challenges.

Almost half of the ranch homes for sale are over 25 years old and the oldest on the market was built in 1941 and is located in the popular Rogers Park area. There are 15 homes less than five years old and a handful of brand new ones under construction. The old fashioned ranch was usually three bedrooms, one bath and a one car garage. The bedrooms were all clustered together for the benefit of young children. Today’s ranch is radically different with the master at one end of the home and the secondary bedrooms at the other. Family members come together in the great room which also has an open kitchen. One big ticket item is the expanded garage—either an extra large double or a triple car. Some also have workshop areas. These homes are designed for the aging baby boomer or the dual income family with no children.

Southeast Anchorage remains a sought after area for ranch homes as the aging baby boomers migrate down from their large hillside homes but still want to be close to familiar shopping and, even more importantly, their adult children and grandkids. Local builders are finally catching on to this trend and new ranch homes are popping up in the new Huffman Timbers subdivision located at the corner of Lake Otis and Huffman and also in WestGate, a craftsman style duplex condo community. Sonoma Glenn and North Pointe also have ranch homes recently built or under construction.

In a slightly softening housing market, builders are looking for niches and the return of the ranch home is a prime target for our growing older population. That’s not to say, however, there isn’t sticker shock when it comes to cost. They are more expensive than the traditional split/entry popular in the 1980’s and the two-story homes with great rooms now populating our newer neighborhoods. That’s because the roof and foundations are larger for ranch homes. With a ranch plan there is no opportunity to divide those costs between a first and second floor.

In today’s market, you can expect to pay between $250 and $273 per square foot for brand new ranch style living built to a five star energy rating. Nevertheless, the ranch home remains more popular than the apartment style condos (flats) in a larger building with interior corridors. That’s a very small segment of the home buying market, usually best suited for snowbirds, who live here only part-time. Most of us that plan to age in place still want to have a front door and an attached garage with a small yard, even if we have to hire someone to take care of it.  That’s the benefit of a ranch condo with a homeowner’s association. Expect more choices in this market the rest of the year.  Just don’t be surprised by the price.

Downtown Anchorage Has Housing for Every Lifestyle

by Connie Yoshimura

Stretching from C Street to the inlet, from just south of 15th to fourth avenue, downtown housing has something for everyone, from log cabins to luxury urban high rise condos in the Petersen Towers and everything in between.  So far this year, there’s plenty to choose from with 13 single family homes for sale, ranging from $370,000 to $2.9 million.  There are also 27 condos ranging from $127,500 to $1.4 million.  But, perhaps the most interesting component of downtown housing is the redevelopment of R2 lots, whether in the Bootlegger’s Cove area, South Addition or the Park Strip.  I’ve lived in the downtown area, in various locations for over 30 years, including an east facing Petersen Tower condo and always wishing I could have afforded one with the west facing ocean sunset view to Bootlegger’s Cove in a four-plex with a peek-a-boo view of the inlet.   Frankly, I always thought I would be at the forefront of re-development when I moved to H Street 20 years ago but it has taken that long for the R2 tear downs to begin, whether across the street with two luxury duplex condos under $600,000 or new developments along the park strip with roof top decks, coming soon.

Properties become more expensive as you move from C Street to the cove.  Fairview and Government Hill are downtown but they are considered a different market segment. Nevertheless, there are plenty of choices from C street west to Bootlegger’s cove.   Just think of it like those buttery scones available at Fire Island, a fresh flavor for every taste.  There have been some hits and misses along the way in redevelopment from the narrow outer space designs in the cove and on E Street to the stalled luxury flats with spectacular inlet views in the cove. However, some properties that have been for sale for as long as I can remember now have sale pending signs on them.  Older buildings are being remodeled with a mixture of craftsman style and flat roof contemporary.    Bootlegger’s Cove is slowly being freshened up with new paint, new exteriors and a handful of new townhouse style units coming soon.  Plus, Park Strip Lofts and townhouse style condos with daylight basements, in my neighborhood on H Street and G, with views of the mountains, developed and built by Hultquist Homes who appears to be staking out a claim for developing downtown living

There’s a cost, however, for that walk to Simon’s or the Performing Arts Center to take in the latest live opera or concert.  Average square footage price for new construction is more expensive downtown than anywhere else in the bowl, softened only if there is there is a daylight basement.   The average duplex condo site is worth about $150,000 per side, making most new attached housing in the $600,000 plus range.    Plus, alleys need to get paved, water sewer/connects need to be upgraded and sometimes connected from the street because forty years ago AWWU didn’t require the installation of pig tails to the lot lines.  Then, for the oldest, tear down properties there’s the probability of a buried fuel tank.  The cost of tearing down an old log cabin can run anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000.  But, whether you’re a retired lawyer, a downsizer from the hillside or a young millennial, everyone seems to want that raspberry ginger scone.  I, however, prefer that buckwheat cinnamon roll, the best in Anchorage.  And so is downtown living, where there’s a residence for every lifestyle.

For what’s coming soon in downtown Anchorage, call or text me at 907-229-2703 or visit me this Sunday at open house, 15th and H Street, from 1 to 4 pm.

Here's the Impact of the New Title 21

by Connie Yoshimura

These charts and graphs tell the story better than what I can put into words.  Single family permits, already on a downward spiral in 2015, are now at an all- time low of 26 for the first quarter of 2016, as builders struggle to conform to the new design requirements in title 21.  But, it’s not just the single family homes that are in the downward spiral.  Duplexes and duplex condos have also taken a dramatic decline as these charts indicate.  Multi-family units, generally built with low income tax credits, and providing much needed affordable housing, has also dramatically declined.

So, in today’s economy, was the implementation of the new title 21, the right decision for Anchorage’s housing shortage and aging housing stock?  

 

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

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