Chances are almost 100% that if you’re an Anchorage home buyer, you’re frustrated with your hunt for a new home—whether your choice is either pre-owned or brand new. But, if it is any consolation, you’re not alone. In July 2007, the United States had 4,040,000 homes for sale. Ten years later, that number had dropped to 1,900,000. Inventory has decreased on a year-over-year basis in each of the past 29 months, according to the National Association of Realtors.  

The national standard for inventory in a well-balanced market is six months. Anchorage’s current inventory is 2.52 months, inclusive of all price points. Of the 568 homes for sale on February 8, 2018, 44% were above $400,000 while the average price of a sold home for the last six months was only $363,000. So not only does Anchorage have a lack of inventory it also has a lack of affordable home inventory.

We all know the reasons why we’re faced with this shortage. On a national level that trickles down to the U.S.’s largest state, we’ve had the California wildfires, Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area and Irma in Florida which is absorbing workers and materials. More than 130,000 residential and commercial structures were damaged in the Houston area and the California fires damaged more than 7,000 structures.  Alaska has always been at the tail end of the supply chain and that crunch will continue well into 2018. Locally, the rewrite of Title 21 has increased regulations, costs and time for approval for builders and developers.

So what’s a frustrated home buyer to do? First, get off Zillow. I know that’s a radical statement but sign up instead for a portal on which is the statewide MLS. There’s more and accurate information on that site than you’ll ever get from Trulia and Zillow. I’m not going to put all photos you find online in the ‘fake news’ category, but our job in marketing is to make all homes look good. Second, drive around! Except for going east on Tudor at 4 pm, you can still get almost anywhere in 30 minutes. Even from the intersection of Potter Valley Road and New Seward to E. 36th is only 14 minutes with no stop signs. Finally, visit the neighborhood where you would like to live at different times of the day and week. After all, you’re not just buying a home but a community. Let your family and friends know you are shopping for a home. Occasionally, a home does sell by word of mouth but more than likely, stay in touch with your realtor who is probably your best source for new homes on the market. Finally, once you find a home don’t nickel and dime your offer. A few thousand dollars is hardly going to budge your mortgage payment and the inventory shortage is going to continue for the foreseeable future in Anchorage.