MLS recently reported that sixty-five ranch homes in Anchorage have sold since the first of the year and twenty are now pending. There are forty-five active ranch listings with an average asking price of $363,112. Their average price per square foot is $236 and their time on the market is fifty-five days, slightly less than all MLS combined inventory. I was surprised by those numbers as they represent an impressive part of the Anchorage market place. A closer look shows that forty-seven of the sales were homes built between 1940 and 1980, demonstrating that regardless of the age of the property, the demand is there for the aging baby boomer looking to ease into a simpler lifestyle. But, wait, as part of this demographic, I’m no longer referring to the ‘aging baby’ description. Let’s just call ourselves ‘boomers’, searching always for ways to enhance our life.   

However, the problem is new ranches are expensive to build—larger footprints than two story homes and thus they cost more for excavation, foundation and roofs. Boomers also don’t want to leave behind their chef’s kitchens and spa bathrooms, the two most expensive rooms in any home regardless of its configuration. Builders have historically used the second story element to lower the average square footage price but without it new ranch homes cost well over $250 per square foot in comparison to the $236 resale value of existing ranches. And boomers are hesitant to make a lateral financial move, i.e. spending the same amount for a new ranch home as for the sale price of their existing residence, regardless of the new five star energy efficiency standards and the freedom from worry over unexpected maintenance and replacement costs on an aging property. Then, there’s what to do with all that furniture and mementos. It seems like an almost unsurmountable task, both financially, physically and emotionally. Yet, those aching hips and knee joints propel us to keep up the search. 

Although they have been a long time in design and coming out of the ground, there are some new ranches at reasonable values starting to pop up. Westgate, the final remaining phase of WestPark at the corner of Kincaid Road and WestPark Drive, has recently introduced duplex condo ranch homes on large R2A lots starting at just $3…… These new homes have three beds, two baths, and a double car garage with the third bedroom having double French doors opening to the great room. Plus, these large fenced backyards, many with southern exposure, are perfect for that tag along pet. It’s a great ‘lock and leave’ opportunity for boomers who want to head south for the winter. Gray Hawk, a small community off Lake Otis and E. 80th has just announced three new ranch homes on fee simple lots starting at $369,000. It’s an Alaskan style cul-de-sac where you can park your toys in the back yard and no covenants, codes and restrictions so you can park your boat and RV all year round. Only three of these homes which have just been permitted are available. 

Finally, Huffman Timbers, the new craftsman style community at the corner of Lake Otis and Huffman Road, also has a new group of ranches on the market, ranging in price from $459,000 to $499,900. The developers adjusted their square footage requirements downward to 1,400 square foot for ranches in order to keep values under $500,000.