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Condos Come in All Shapes, Sizes and Price Ranges

by Connie Yoshimura

There are single family condos, duplex condos (where you purchase one side), site condos (which are enveloped in an air space), townhouse style, flats and multi-story, to identify a few.  I recently had an opportunity to show condos to a buyer with a goal of purchasing a home in the $250,000 range and, frankly, I was surprised at the availability and excellent condition of many of the homes we viewed. 

 

Several of the properties had three bedrooms, two baths and a double car garage   Many of them were built in the late 1990’s and can be found in almost all of the MLS districts.   These condos have reverse living.  In other words, they feature two bedrooms, one bath and a double car garage on the first floor with a master and great room on the second floor. The differential in their value is due in part to location, interior amenities (laminate vs. granite or quartz), and how well the association has taken care of the common area grounds.  The more desirable ones are priced in the mid-$230,000 to $240,000 range.  This is slightly above the average August sales price as reported in MLS at $218,000.  These condos have wide appeal from young  families with prepubescent children to boomers and seniors downsizing from larger single family homes.  The condos with the most appeal have an accessible backyard from a slider in one of the first floor bedrooms and a fireplace.  Vaulted ceilings create vertical space and make the great room appear larger.

 

On the other end of the condo spectrum are the luxury condos being built downtown and in South Addition.  In the higher density R3 zone, these multi-story condos have a garage on the first floor, living on the second floor and bedrooms on the third floor.  The most popular ones have rooftop decks and inlet or mountain views.  These luxury condos with quartz countertops, luxury vinyl tile flooring and expansive windows start at $500,000.

 

In the middle of the price spectrum are the duplex condos in popular areas such as WestGate.  There, each duplex condo is built on its own R2A lot with a minimum square footage of 8,000 square feet which allows for fenced backyards as deep as 50 feet.  Ranches and two-story plans begin at $359,000.  These homes function as  single family but with a shared common wall. The most popular plans are ranches and two-story homes with three or four bedrooms and a two-story element.

 

And then there are condos in  buildings with elevators and shared stall garages.  These units are the most expensive on a price per square foot of living space because they generally have shared and higher common expenses for maintenance and security and may be built to commercial building standards, depending on the number of stories.

 

But, whatever the price point or style, the most important consideration when choosing to purchase a condo is to understand the rules of the association  by reading the public offering or resale certificate because you are buying into a defined community with rules and a budget for shared common expenses.  As Anchorage’s limited availability for single  family development continues to decline, more and more home buyers will  turn to condos.  In five years, prices for all of today’s condos will seem like the bottom of the market.

A Stable Market Heading into the Fourth Quarter

by Connie Yoshimura

Despite all the concerns over potential job losses as a result of the state budget cuts and the recent announcement of BP’s sale to Hilcorp, the Anchorage and Eagle River residential markets have yet to demonstrate any negative affect. Pending sales for the past five weeks ending on Sept. 19 increased in Anchorage to 267 when compared to 253 sales in 2018.  In Eagle River, pending sales increased from 46 to 60 in 2019.  Although there is always some fall out (DFT’s) when using pending rather than closed sales, pendings give you a more immediate look into market activity.

Obviously, mortgage rates as low as 3.35%  are helping more entry level buyers move into the market.  But those low rates also have a trickle up affect  enabling  first time homeowners to  sell their entry level condos and move up to single family homes which 74% of all buyers prefer regardless of the lot size.  

Lack of inventory continues to plague the local market.  Over the past month, Anchorage inventory had a total of 531 fewer units for sale than last year.  In Eagle River that drop was just over 100 homes.  These numbers are inclusive  of all price ranges and both  resale and new construction homes, according to MLS statistics.  Not all sales are reported in MLS as some homes are private sales, particularly when there is a lack of inventory.  However, MLS does include FSBOs (for sale by owners).  

So it’s hard to say how the BP sale to Hilcorp is going to affect the market.  Some BP employees will obviously be re-employed by Hilcorp.  Others  own homes on the Kenai or in the Mat-Su. And some commute from the lower 48.  Those BP employees who do live in Anchorage/Eagle River and own their own home will have the opportunity to accept relocation benefits.   Third party relocation companies will not want to keep inventory over the winter and incur the costs for utilities, snow plowing and winterization.  Their goal is always to sell homes at the lowest fair market value because generally their compensation is based on how quickly they sell the home.  So if the range for a home is $500,000 to $535,000 most likely it will be listed in the low $500,000 in order to quickly  move it.  Relocation companies are also not interested in cosmetic renovations but may consider health/safety repairs.

There will be some good opportunities for buyers with these homes, many of which will be in southeast Anchorage.  For example,  one relo home in a southeast subdivision recently sold within a week.  These homes will also have been landscaped and include window coverings—two expensive items when purchasing a new home.   Buyers interested in these homes should pay close attention to the market.  In some instances, the sign will go up before the listing so I would encourage buyers to drive the communities they are interested in.. And use www.alaskarealestate.com rather than zillow or other websites which frequently have a two or three day delay before syndicating into the public domain.  

The bottom line is due to our low inventory these relocation homes will be readily absorbed into the market.  Buyers need to get pre-qualified and be ready to act quickly when one comes on the market.  And not quibble over a few thousand dollars under the asking price.

BP has been an excellent corporate citizen and their employees have made valuable and generous contributions to our community.   From one neighbor to another, we thank you.    

Highlights from the Fall Parade of Homes

by Connie Yoshimura

It was a small tour with only nineteen homes in comparison to other years where there have been as many as thirty entries. That small number is no surprise because Anchorage home builders continue to struggle to find buildable homesites at a reasonable value due to the high cost of land development, particularly when it comes to water/sewer/road extensions which in many communities is shared between the developer and the local government but not in Anchorage. Add looming tariffs, and for builders, higher interest rates on their lines of credit, due to economic risk, plus the high entry fee of $1,000, and so it’s no surprise the Anchorage tour was small this year. 

But despite all that there were some outstanding homes to visit. They were more contemporary with shallow roof lines, expansive floor to almost ceiling windows and larger secondary bedrooms with their own walk-in closets. The open living floor plan is now a constant whether it’s an entry level condo in the $300,000+ range or the million dollar home. Three of the four entries in the million dollar category had panoramic inlet views from almost every room! Well worth their asking price as these builders went all out with custom cabinetry, Bosch appliances, luxury flooring and the wet room in the master bath. Wet room? That’s when you combine the shower and the stand alone tub in the same area, surrounded by luxury tile and a floor to ceiling glass enclosure.     

Years ago when I was building my first home, my architect told me that in Alaska you can’t keep guests out of the kitchen so ‘tear down that wall’. Today, the kitchen is still the heart of the home and all other rooms and activities revolve around it. The kitchen remains front and center and may even be visible from the entry.  But now the kitchen question is ‘Are white cabinets still in?’ According to the recently released annual survey from the National association of Home Builders, medium brown is now tied with white cabinetry. It’s not the dark or walnut stained espresso from fifteen years ago but a medium brown. It’s warm, inviting, has a neutral palette and doesn’t take a lot of energy to live with. Almost all of the Parade homes over $600,000 had brown cabinets while white lightens and adds visual space to smaller kitchens in the affordable home category.

‘Grayish’ is still the preferred wall color for most homes although my personal preference remains one of the dozen or more choices for white. Particularly, with our six months of diminishing or lack of sunlight, builders and homeowners doing a remodel can’t go wrong with white walls. 

Highlights from the Fall Parade of Homes

by Connie Yoshimura

It was a small tour with only nineteen homes in comparison to other years where there have been as many as thirty entries. That small number is no surprise because Anchorage home builders continue to struggle to find buildable homesites at a reasonable value due to the high cost of land development, particularly when it comes to water/sewer/road extensions which in many communities is shared between the developer and the local government but not in Anchorage. Add looming tariffs, and for builders, higher interest rates on their lines of credit, due to economic risk, plus the high entry fee of $1,000, and so it’s no surprise the Anchorage tour was small this year. 

But despite all that there were some outstanding homes to visit. They were more contemporary with shallow roof lines, expansive floor to almost ceiling windows and larger secondary bedrooms with their own walk-in closets. The open living floor plan is now a constant whether it’s an entry level condo in the $300,000+ range or the million dollar home. Three of the four entries in the million dollar category had panoramic inlet views from almost every room! Well worth their asking price as these builders went all out with custom cabinetry, Bosch appliances, luxury flooring and the wet room in the master bath. Wet room? That’s when you combine the shower and the stand alone tub in the same area, surrounded by luxury tile and a floor to ceiling glass enclosure.     

Years ago when I was building my first home, my architect told me that in Alaska you can’t keep guests out of the kitchen so ‘tear down that wall’. Today, the kitchen is still the heart of the home and all other rooms and activities revolve around it. The kitchen remains front and center and may even be visible from the entry.  But now the kitchen question is ‘Are white cabinets still in?’ According to the recently released annual survey from the National association of Home Builders, medium brown is now tied with white cabinetry. It’s not the dark or walnut stained espresso from fifteen years ago but a medium brown. It’s warm, inviting, has a neutral palette and doesn’t take a lot of energy to live with. Almost all of the Parade homes over $600,000 had brown cabinets while white lightens and adds visual space to smaller kitchens in the affordable home category.

‘Grayish’ is still the preferred wall color for most homes although my personal preference remains one of the dozen or more choices for white. Particularly, with our six months of diminishing or lack of sunlight, builders and homeowners doing a remodel can’t go wrong with white walls. 

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