Last weekend the Anchorage Home Builders sponsored their annual Parade of Homes, showcasing Anchorage and Eagle River builders’ new homes. Out of the fifteen entries (one of the lowest on record for the event), some definite residential trends have emerged. First, there aren’t many single family homes on lots over 5,000 square feet and under $400,000. If you can find one, buy it while interest rates are still low. In the future, they’re going to be almost impossible to find in that price point due to the growing high cost of vertical construction and increased regulatory requirements for the development of residential subdivisions. Any new single family home under $500,000 is going to look like a smart buy in another 18 months. In its place, is the new condo which is definitely going vertical and by that I don’t mean three and four story buildings with interior corridors but rather three stories of stacked living within one unit. Out of 15 entries, more than a third were condos. Anchorage and downtown Eagle River are being urbanized. Interesting to note is that Spinell Homes has a four bedroom condo with a great room on the first floor and four bedrooms upstairs plus a laundry room. It functions like a small single family home but has an attached wall. You’ll see more of these types of dwelling units in the future.

    Of the fifteen entries, six were in the Eagle River area, where residential land is still available for development. Two other popular areas was WestPark with two entries in the Sand Lake area and, as always, southeast Anchorage with four entries . There were no million dollar homes this year which may be one of the reasons attendance appeared to be down. The most expensive home was $784,500 by Crown Pointe, Inc., on an acre plus lot on the lower Hillside. If you want a larger home on the hillside, that’s just about the minimum price point in the future. Don’t expect anything on the hillside under $700,000 in the coming months for new construction.

    Our local builders have begun to pay attention to details and designs. Most new homes are the great room concept with a flex room (office/den/extra bedroom) on the first floor. Four beds on the second floor seems to be the ‘must have’. The peninsula island is out and the walk-around kitchen is the only way to go with granite now the standard countertop above $350,000 and quartz making an expensive comeback in the upper price point. Quartz counters provide more consistency in color, allowing additional color for backsplashes which are definitely going to the cabinet level for a clean look. Knobs, pulls, crown molding complete the new kitchen look which includes painted white cabinets, a refreshing look for our upcoming dark winter nights.

    The next time you’re out looking at new homes, pay attention to the lighting which is the jewelry of a home. Whether it’s the restoration hardware look or the origami white cloud dining room fixture, there’s nothing like new and exciting lighting to make a modest home look special. Fireplace surrounds and mantles have become almost like custom cabinetry with varied height bookcases, sometimes as much as eight feet high which highlights the nine foot first floor ceilings, another ‘must have’. Accent walls are definitely something to pay attention to in the kitchen, family room and master bath. It’s an easy and inexpensive fix if a buyer doesn’t like the color but adds a bright spot of color to our upcoming dark days. If you don’t know what color to paint an accent wall, Google ‘pantone’, the color guru website which forecasts the latest in colors for home design and fashion