Owning your own home has long been considered a part of the American dream.  It ranks right up there with owning your first car and the memory of your first kiss, only it is a lot more expensive and in some cases emotional, particularly in Alaska.  Anchorage is one of the highest cost housing communities in the nation, aside from large metropolitan cities like New York and San Francisco.  However, that doesn’t prevent 63.7% of Alaskans from owning their own home which is comparable to the U.S. average, given a varying per cent or two by decade.  What is perhaps more interesting than the statistical averages is who in Alaska, particularly in Anchorage, are actually buying homes.   Anchorage’s population hit 300,000 last year and the average age is in the mid-30s, so our home buyers are younger and, we also know, more athletic than those in other communities.  That’s why we have a plethora of sidewalks, bike paths, recreational trails and parks. (Per capita our park land is more than any other city in the U.S.)   Over the past thirty years, Anchorage has also grown more cosmopolitan.  Filipino, Hispanic, Hmong, Somali, Korean, Sudanese, Polynesians, Russians and many others are forming a larger and diverse ethnic population.  More than 90 different languages are spoken by students in the Anchorage school district.

     I have been meeting potential home buyers in Anchorage at open houses for almost thirty years and today the ethnic make-up of those potential buyers reflects our cosmopolitan population.  Although my information is only anecdotal, our local cosmopolitan population is definitely on the search for the American dream of home ownership.  I am a ‘hapa’ which is a slang term for someone who is part Asian and part something else - which in my case is ‘Iowan’.  As a ‘mixed’ realtor, I’m happy to report that Anchorage doesn’t have red-lining:  the steering of ethnic groups to certain areas of town, unlike the story line of the play, ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ which deals with the integration of a Caucasian neighborhood by an Afro-American family, is not found here.    In Anchorage, you can live in whatever subdivision or home you can afford to own.  Realtors don’t steer buyers to certain areas of town because of their race.  If we did, we would soon have no buyers or sellers because 50% of our population is soon to be considered non-Caucasian.  Only twice in the past thirty years, have I had a seller tell me they wouldn’t sell to a minority buyer.  Those two rare occurrences speak well for our community.

     Home ownership will become more expensive for all buyers in the near term.  Subcontractors and suppliers have raised their prices 3% this spring directly due to increased costs.  Home builders have no choice but to pass those costs on to home buyers.  On a $400,000 home, that’s a $12,000 increase from just a few months ago.   Inventory this past week has increased by 40 homes, but is still about 45% lower than the average of what we would normally experience over the past decade.   Conventional interest rates bumped up an eighth of a point this past week to 4.5%, making home ownership a tad bit more expensive.  In Anchorage, the American dream is becoming more and more expensive but that hasn’t stopped home buyers from their pursuit of new homes and most likely never well.  It is, after all, home sweet home.