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Connie Yoshimura

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Changes Coming to the Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance

by Connie Yoshimura

Still awaiting a hearing before the local Planning and Zoning Commission is an amendment to the Anchorage Municipal Code, Title 21, modifying Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Regulations. Originally scheduled for Oct. 2 and rescheduled for Nov. 13th, it was postponed again due to a lack of a quorum which is not an unusual occurrence during the holiday season. However, this most recent postpone provides an opportunity for further comment from concerned citizens, of which I am one.

The proposed changes to the ADU existing ordinance is well intended to ‘expand the supply of residential rental units, make homeownership easier to attain and sustain, and encourage the development of this type of alternative housing.’ Anchorage needs more housing units and this is, indeed, a good step forward. However, the devil is always in the details and the interpretation of the code at the permit counter. So here are some of the details that I find perplexing. The landowner must submit an affidavit on a form provided by the MOA affirming that at least one landowner will occupy the principal dwelling or the accessory unit. That seems well-intended but who is going to enforce this requirement? Certainly, not the Zoning Enforcement Department which currently is understaffed and has more important infractions, such as health and safety, to deal with than whether or not a landowner is absent from their owner-occupied premises for more than six months.     

One positive change is the ability to have an ADU in the R1 single family zone as long as it is within or attached to the primary dwelling. Homebuilders have struggled with the ‘mother-in-law’ request from new home buyers for the past ten years. This ordinance will clear up the in and out installation for stoves and other appliances in family rooms. However, I’m not sure how the community will respond to the ability of a homeowner to now add an ADU on a 10,000 single family zoned lot. Many of our older subdivisions have lots that are 10,000 square feet or slightly more and they are highly prized for their privacy, particularly if they are on a cul-de-sac. Unless the covenants, codes and restrictions for the subdivision particularly restrict ADUs, there may be some unhappy homeowners when their next door neighbor begins construction of an ADU.

One yet to be determined factor is how mortgage lenders will view accessory dwelling units for the purposes of financing. Will rental income from the ADU be allocated to the owner’s income ratios at 75% of the gross rental income or at all? I can see this as a particular sticky issue if the ADU is detached. One other concern is the required deed recording identifying the property as having an ADU and the requirement if and when it is converted back to only a single family to make another recorded change.   

I live in a neighborhood where several ADUs have popped up over the past ten years, some legal and some obviously non-conforming. I welcome additional housing units in my neighborhood and in the community as a whole. However, the ADU ordinance as proposed is overburdened with unnecessary regulation. And, as we all know, over-regulation is a contributing factor to Anchorage’s high housing costs.     

 

Foreign Home Buyers in Alaska?

by Connie Yoshimura

As can be expected top destinations for foreign buyers are the sunshine states of Florida, California, Texas and Arizona. However, in a little heralded survey in 2015, published by the National Association of Realtors, Alaska ranked number #6 as a destination for foreign home buyers. More recent surveys have dropped Anchorage and Alaska out of the top 20 but the survey reminded me of my first encounter with a foreign home buyer back in 1984.  

That was when Alaska was just beginning to establish relationships with the Russian Far East. As a listing agent, the foreign buyers I met had obtained a loan from a local bank to purchase a home in a southeast Anchorage subdivision. After closing they wanted to put up a satellite dish on the front of the home but the covenants, codes and restrictions for the subdivision required it to be attached to the rear of the home. Their first response was “Well, we’ll just give the keys back to the bank if we can’t put it where we want to.” That seems like an amusing anecdote now but in 1984 Russians were not allowed to own property in their native country. The closest they could come to property ownership was a leased plot for their ‘deshka’, the equivalent of a summer cabin here in Alaska.  

Today, it is not unusual for realtors to do business with foreign home buyers. Although there is no specific state survey, Alaska is an attractive second home destination for foreigners, particularly in recreational communities like Homer and Sitka. An international buyer refers to two types of non-U.S. citizens. Type A is a non-U.S. citizen who primarily resides outside the U.S. and who doesn’t stay in the U.S. year round. The Type B buyer is a non-U.S. citizen who is temporarily residing in the U.S on non-immigrant visa, such as diplomats, foreign students, and foreign workers or recent immigrants who have been in the U.S. for less than two years as of the time of their purchase.

According to the National Association of Realtors, foreign buyers purchased $102.6 billion in residential real estate in 2016, down slightly from a high of $103.9 billion in 2015. Nationally, about 34% of foreign buyers come from Asia. Latin American and the Caribbean buyers make up about 21% and Europeans, 18%. China has been the top country of origin for foreign buyers since 2015 as far as number of transactions. China includes the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan for these statistics. Buyers from Alaska’s neighbor, Canada, are also considered foreign buyers, and according to the NAR survey, make up 12% of all foreign buyers in 2016. What is also interesting is that, on average, foreigners purchase more expensive homes, with an average sales price of $477,500 in 2016, compared to U.S. citizens’ average purchase price for existing homes at $266.700. As Alaska’s diverse ethnic population continues to grow, we can expect more and more foreign citizens to purchase homes in our communities which will be a stabilizing factor in the residential market as Alaska works its way through its fiscal dilemma.

Proposed Changes to the Mortgage Interest Deduction

by Connie Yoshimura

The Anchorage real estate market will take a hit if changes to the beloved mortgage interest deduction includes a reduction from $1,000,000 to $500,000, as currently being proposed by Congress. Although still up for debate in the U.S. House and Senate, there’s probably at least a 50/50 chance that homeowners with a mortgage over $500,000 will lose their interest expense deduction beyond the proposed new cap. Particularly hard hit will be the real estate markets in California, New York and Seattle which have had record high inflation in double digits the past couple of years. But Anchorage is also going to share in the pain. Over 25% of the active listings in MLS are over $500,000. So far in 2017, there have been 20 homes sold over $1 million and 4 are pending. There are also currently 20 single family homes for sale over $1 million. I guess you can say ‘So what? Buyers who can afford a million dollar home can afford to pay a little bit more. That doesn’t affect me.’ But, in reality, it will have a dampening affect on the entire market. Buyers who were previously considering moving up, may elect to take a step back and choose to remodel rather than move. Any time the tax rules change or mortgage rates increase, the market slows and takes three to four months to adjust. Anchorage has a lot of higher end relocation buyers due to its oil based economy. The medical and aviation professions are also some of our higher end buyers over $500,000.    

Jerry Howard, CEO of the National Association of Home Builders was quoted last week as saying, “There are 7 million homes on the market right now that are over $500,000 and that the cap would devalue the homes. When housing values start to go down in one market, it spreads to the next and the next…. and the first thing you know you have a housing recession.” During the past ten years, home ownership rates in the U.S. have plummeted to just over 63%, down from 68%. Here in Alaska, rates are hovering around 65% but down from 70% in 2004. The last thing the housing industry needs right now, locally or nationally, is a change in the mortgage interest deduction. Soon the housing industry is going to have to cope with a rising interest rate. I know I have predicted mortgage rate increases for the past four years but with a new Fed chairman, I’m not alone in believing it is inevitable before the end of the year. Construction costs are also rising due to lack of material and labor shortage. The graying of America is not just in the suburbs but amongst the construction trades. Generation X and Y’s wanted to be lawyers instead of plumbers. If you want to buy a newly constructed home in Anchorage next year, expect to pay over $500,000.

One big fear is that this is just the beginning of the end of the mortgage interest deduction for all homeowners. And, if that happens, the American dream of home ownership will be in real peril. Homeownership provides an opportunity for the accumulation of wealth for the working and middle class. It promotes civic participation and community responsibility as well as social stability. And it also serves as an engine for economic growth. 

The one good caveat for the mortgage interest reduction plan is that homeowners with existing mortgages over $500,000 will be grandfathered in. So, if you are contemplating a move-up, now is the time to act.

Dwell Realty is on the Move

by Connie Yoshimura

You have probably heard from me on Facebook that we’re moving our offices to the Tatitlek building on Dec. 1st. Negotiating the lease terms, planning the TI’s has been quite a challenge and I have learned a lot about commercial real estate in the process. Selecting the space was pretty easy. We wanted to stay in mid-town to be close to our lenders, title companies and other real estate brokerages. There is a lot of interaction and synergy between all of us in the residential market place and so that narrowed our selection down.  We also wanted to do a modest expansion, thanks to all the support and acceptance Dwell Realty has received from our buyers and sellers. In particular, we’d like to thank Hultquist Homes and the John Hagmeier Company for their commitment to us when we first opened our doors over four and a half years ago.   

     

Dwell’s new office will be 7,700 square feet and will have room for seven more experienced realtors, making our total number approximately forty. In my many years of experience, that’s a manageable size for quality control and excellent customer service. Many of our realtors have been with us from the first year and I want to thank them for having faith in me and my team in a start-up brokerage. Our goal is not to be the biggest brokerage but one that buyers and sellers can count on to receive accurate real estate information, aggressive marketing, both online and in print, and true to the principles of honest representation and full disclosure.

     

In January 2018, we’ll be having a series of open houses so that you can see what we’re all about. Willodell Construction is our general contractor and I’ve probably driven him a little crazy with all my requests, including a barn door, living edge, farm sink, quartz countertops and stacked rock wall (not the kind you climb). We’ve also got some new art from V Rae, for our expanded lobby area. We want to continue to support Alaska’s contemporary artists.

 

Our physical move begins Thanksgiving weekend. Desks, copiers, data cabling, color coded boxes, furniture placement, computer hook-ups, WIFIs. —it’s a challenge but there is a Dwell team in place to make it happen.

 

November is the month we all give thanks for where we are in life, family  and work. So Thank You, Alaska!

 

 

Let's Talk About Lots

by Connie Yoshimura

Mark Twain said it best, “Buy land because they don’ t make any more of it.” That still rings true to this day except for Dubai where they are creating islands in the ocean for high rise development. But, back here in Anchorage, Alaska, buyers are frustrated even trying to find a lot on which to build a new home. Our residential land shortage is becoming acute. Lots are getting smaller due to higher regulatory and construction costs while the vertically built footprint increases. Local builders and buyers continue to grapple with the 30% lot coverage ratio required by the MOA for a maximum building footprint for two story homes while ranches have a 40% lot coverage ratio requirement. Probably, the greatest frustration home buyers have today is finding a lot wide or large enough to build their new home on. Aside from the lot coverage ratio, lot width dictates the type of home that can be built.  The MOA requires a minimum of a five foot side yard setback. On a fifty food wide lot that leaves only forty feet for the width of a new home. Most move-up buyers want a triple car garage which is thirty feet wide. That leaves only ten feet for an entry plus a small flex room if that. New Title 21 dictates a 10% front window elevation. And buyers and the community wonder why all homes begin to look like. Plus, covenants, codes and restrictions for a new home community may dictate exterior elevations and landscaping requirements. Streetscapes take ten years to develop with Alaska’s slow growing season for trees and shrubs.   

Trying to find a house plan and a lot that it will  fit on is the number one  buyer frustration in Anchorage. It is no longer about price or location but finding the right combination. Today’s buyer would rather sacrifice yard size for more vertical space. The boomer will accept minimum yard space and so will families without children. Anchorage is not alone in lot shortages. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the United States has record lot shortages. Lot prices are increasing while lot sizes are decreasing. Western states including, California and Washington, have an average lot price of $78,000 but I bet those published prices are for lots only 4,000 square feet. Add another $50,000 for an Anchorage lot with public water, sewer and a publicly maintained street. Currently, the only opportunity developers have for small lot development is through the cluster housing ordinance. However, that ordinance requires 30% open space which usually means you have to run water, sewer and a road through the open space without having the opportunity for a driveway/lot to pay for those extensions. These construction costs then have to be pro-rated to the overall cost of development resulting in minimum benefit in reducing costs to the new home buyer. 

Anchorage doesn’t have national and publicly traded home builders or wealthy land developers with access to wealth investment funds to hire lobbyists or outside consultants to advocate for single family or small lot development. Without our community coming together in an advocacy for single family development, which starts always with the land, we will continue to lose more and more of its citizens to the Valley. I have even heard some planners say that is an inevitable transition. I’m not willing to give up quite so easily on the American dream of single family home ownership.    

Home Buyer Preferences by Generation

by Connie Yoshimura

Despite the generational differences, all home buyers prefer to live in a single family detached home. Boomers and millennials, Gen X and even seniors, prefer a single family detached home. But still the myth exists that boomers want to live in an apartment style condo and go home on an elevator. Not so, according to a new study by the National Association of Home Builders. When surveyed only 8% of boomers preferred to live in an apartment style condo. Boomers who currently live in a single family home simply want to downsize to a smaller, more energy efficient home. In that regard, they are just like all home buyers where 90% want energy star rated appliances and over 88% want green home features including a tankless water heater and higher rated insulation than required by local code. And over 75% of boomers and seniors prefer that new home to be one-story.

The good news for home builders is that over half of all home buyers now prefer a new home.  Boomers and seniors prefer to downsize but that magic square footage number is still almost 1,800 square feet. It is the Millennial and Generation X buyers who want 2,315 plus square footage, including four bedrooms and three full baths. Their goal is to move-up from a 1,600+ square foot home, which may even be attached, to a larger home and lot. Here in Anchorage, which is an active move-up market, as newly formed families add children and the small single family home or 1500 square foot attached duplex condo becomes too small for their expanding families. All buyers, except seniors, want to increase the size of their lot when they make a move. With Anchorage’s residential land shortage, that’s a preference that gets quickly squashed.

A traditional forward mortgage is how most buyers would pay for a home, according to the NAHB study. However, 28% of those surveyed would pay up front in cash, a trend we are also seeing in Anchorage. Only 3% would use a reverse mortgage despite numerous commercials touting its benefits. Anchorage’s housing market has long stood by itself when it comes to the wants and needs of its buyers. In most instances, our new home prices are $50,000 plus higher than the resale home just a half a mile away with approximately the same square footage. In just a handful of years, we’ve gone from a four star energy rating to five star which has resulted in major increases in cost but with energy benefits to the consumer. Anchorage’s shifting demographics makes it one of the most diverse populations in the nation and with it comes the need for  more innovative housing  and land use plans. Multi-generational families require two master suites which result in a larger footprint on a smaller lot. Seniors and boomers prefer ranches which results in a need for higher lot coverage ratios. More amendments are still needed to the new Title 21 if Anchorage is going to meet its housing needs of the future.

Why You Should Consider Buying Now

by Connie Yoshimura

The Anchorage housing market continues its flat line stability into fall. Single family homes values have averaged $366,000, plus or minus the cost of an airline ticket to Hawaii, since 2014. September closed sales were 271 compared to 277 in 2016. Condos remain at their 2015 value of $213,000. And for the past four months, condo sales have actually beat 2016 figures by 29 units. This is all good news for our housing market but it begs the question of ‘why’ when reports of Alaska’s economic recession continue to dominate the news. Let’s blame it on lack of inventory which is the biggest contributor to Anchorage’s housing stability. Homes priced below $500,000 have, on average, only a three month supply. It’s a competitive range and homes priced between $350,000--$400,000 sell within 29 days if priced correctly and in good condition.  

However, homes listed above $500,000 constitute 26% of our active inventory. There is a one year supply of homes over $750,000 with just 5.6 homes selling per month. If there is a developing soft spot in the market, it is over $500,000 where builders are forced to build and compete with pre-owned homes which are often larger and include landscaping, fencing and appliances. Even sophisticated buyers in this price range, who are most likely move-up buyers purchasing their second or third home, fail to recognize the benefits of the five star energy efficiency requirements compared to the 1980’s four star home. One group that does recognize those benefits, however, is the boomer buyer who doesn’t want the hassle or the unexpected expense of repairs and maintenance of an older home.         

Behind all these numbers is a growing concern of Anchorage’s housing affordability over factors that we have no control over. About this time every year, I have predicted a rate increase in December which has never occurred. However, this year may be the year it actually happens. And, as we all know, it is not the price you pay for the home but the mortgage interest rate that contributes the most to the cost of home ownership. Builders were already nervous about increases in lumber and lack of labor after the hurricanes hit Florida and Texas but now with the devastating wild fires in northern California there is bound to be increases in materials and labor shortages as the rebuilding begins. Already, local builders are reporting having to pay almost $10 a foot in labor costs for framing, an increase of 25% almost overnight. The tariff on British Columbia lumber has also driven up the cost of lumber. Framing is the backbone of any home and is just one example of what we can expect for increased costs in 2017 which will make any new home built in 2016 look like a bargain.

So here’s my advice for the last quarter of 2017. Buy now before mortgage rates increase and new home prices escalate due to material and labor shortages, pulling resale home values with it.

Providing Access to Affordable Housing in Alaska

by Connie Yoshimura

Congratulations to the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation for being one of the best managed public housing agencies in the nation. Established forty-five years ago to provide ‘Alaskans access to safe, quality, affordable housing’, it’s mission is perhaps more important today than ever before. During the recession of the 1980’s, the state legislature grabbed a portion of its profits to help balance its budget and since that time AHFC has made a cumulative contribution close to $2 billion, according to its 2016 annual report. Their mortgage portfolio contains 14,939 loans with a delinquency rate of only 3.7% and a foreclosure rate of 0.29—well below the national average.  
 
As of June 30, 2016, AHFC had 1,612 public housing units available with locations as diverse as Nome, Seward, Juneau, Cordova, Anchorage and Mat-Su. However, the combined wait list from all locations was 3,445, demonstrating what public officials across the state have all finally recognized as Alaska’s housing crisis. The voucher assistance program, where low-income Alaskans lease privately owned rental units from participating landlords, has a wait list of 3,969. As a former landlord who participated in the program, I can attest to its value of social integration as opposed to the ‘projects’ whether new or old, where the low income people live. This is one program where I hope AHFC can do more in the future.
 
There are 73,000 veterans living in Alaska. AHFC supports homeless veterans with 271 Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers, an increase of 24 in FY16. However, the need is much greater with 168 unsheltered veterans according to a Point-in Time count of the homeless population. This is another area where AHFC can and should do more to support its Alaskan veterans.
 
In 2014, AHFC was granted expanded authority by the State legislature to fund mixed use facilities. The funding of commercial space for a coffee shop, restaurant, yoga studio, book store, et cetera appears to be in direct opposition to its mission of ‘Alaskans access to safe, quality, affordable housing.’ Yes, a mixed use building provides subsidized rental housing and, yes, low income families will live there because there is a housing crisis in our state and these units will be available. Over the past five years, planners and developers, at least in Anchorage, have developed a love affair with mixed use. Perhaps, because the projects are larger and more profitable? But, there are other programs and opportunities for housing that is more in keeping with AHFC’s mission and all Alaskans desire for a better quality of life. I’m not sure that’s living above a coffee shop. 

The Future of Housing in Anchorage

by Connie Yoshimura

We all know that Anchorage is a multi-cultural town with over 140 languages spoken in our schools. But, did you know Anchorage is also becoming a multi-family community with over 300 to 500 multi-family and mixed use housing units planned over the next few years? If all the units proposed and under consideration by the MOA planning department are built, Anchorage will soon have hundreds of four to seven story apartment style units over first floor retail. The proposed R3A spot zoning in various designated locations around Anchorage is a pending ordinance before Planning and Zoning designed to facilitate more rental housing, both federally subsidized for low income residents as well as a splattering of market rate rental units. As part of the mix, some units may be designated as for sale condos.

I applaud any effort by the MOA to create more urgently needed housing in all sizes, shapes and price points but what I am most concerned about is the wide economic and social disparity between subsidized rental housing and luxury hillside homes and its long term implications for Anchorage as a community because there is not much in between when it comes to Anchorage housing. There are few new single family subdivisions coming online in 2018. Home builders are still struggling at the bottom of the permit barrel with only 141 permits thru August. Duplex permits, whether as a condo or single owner, also are low for a community our size. So why is this widening gap occurring?  One reason is because there are federal funds available for subsidized housing. Another is multi-family developers, again whether for profit or non-profit entities, have more financial resources to hire consultants to advocate for these projects, which show larger rates of return and provide as much as a 15 to 18% administrative fee back to the developer when federally subsidized. But, on the other side of the housing market, single family builders’ average profit is 6%, according to national statistics. 

I estimate that less than 10% of homebuyers want to live above a coffee shop. Millennials want to live in suburbia in a home like where they were raised. They want a single family home with a garage, fenced yard and three bedrooms. Today, the square footage of the home may be smaller and the lot like a postage stamp but it has a front door and a garage and you don’t have to walk up three flights of stairs or take an elevator to get to your front door. Boomers want the same thing but without the stairs. This is a basic misconception perpetuated by a select number of planners and developers who are proponents of mixed use. Unfortunately, if all goes as planned, it will create a wide social divide between those who can afford a luxury hillside home and those can’t with hardly any housing in between.

My advice to all buyers is if you are looking to buy a single family home, do so now. Because Anchorage isn’t going to have many more in the future unless building and zoning codes are changed to accommodate single family homes as well as high density mixed use properties.

Understanding Your Home Warranty

by Connie Yoshimura

New home buyers frequently have a lot of questions relating to home warranties and what they cover. Some local builders offer a ten year structural warranty but the number of years required is not defined in the state statutes. Almost all builders offer a one year interior warranty but one builder also offers a two year warranty. Most Alaskan home builders and remodelers follow the warranty standards established by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) which are identified in the ‘Residential Construction Performance Guidelines’ booklet. The booklet costs $75 and you do not need to be a member of NAHB in order to purchase a copy. But, like most everything, the devil is in the details so here are some warranty concerns and fixes as established by the NAHB.
 
The observation is the wood subfloor squeaks or seems loose. The performance guideline states that although a totally ‘squeak-proof floor cannot be guaranteed, frequent loud squeaks are considered a deficiency’. The corrective measure is that the contractor will refasten or take other corrective action of any improperly installed or loose subfloor. However, this corrective action does not include removing the floor or ceiling finishes which may come as a surprise to a new homeowner. Another concern buyers may have is that a wood subfloor is not level. The performance guideline is that the floor should not slope more than one half inch in 20 feet. Deflections due to overloading by the consumer are not the contractor’s responsibility. Also, measurements for slope should be made across the room, not in a small area.
 
We have all heard about septic system failures. Most occur over time but occasionally there is one that may be improperly installed. The performance guideline is that the septic system should function as designed and approved by the applicable local governing authority which is the Municipality of Anchorage. It is the contractor’s responsibility to correct any problem caused by improper installation. However, the consumer is responsible for the proper maintenance of the system. If consumer action is the cause, the consumer is responsible for correcting the problem. For example, placement of non-biodegradable or nominally biodegradable items should not be flushed and even excessive use of a food waste disposal can create a problem. Also, adding a fourth bedroom to a septic system designed for a three bedroom home can also create serious problems caused by the consumer. This problem frequently occurs where a homeowner takes it upon himself to finish a basement by adding a fourth bedroom, not realizing his original septic system was installed for a three bedroom home. Few homeowners go to the trouble of upgrading their septic system when remodeling particularly when they are doing it themselves. 
 
There are thousands of parts to our Alaskan homes and virtually 99% of those parts are imported. Alaska does not manufacture home building products so that is always an added risk not only for the consumer but the home builder. What is most important, however, is understanding what is a warranty issue, what is the appropriate fix and whether or not the problem has been created by the consumer.

New home buyers frequently have a lot of questions relating to home warranties and what they cover. Some local builders offer a ten year structural warranty but the number of years required is not defined in the state statutes. Almost all builders offer a one year interior warranty but one builder also offers a two year warranty. Most Alaskan home builders and remodelers follow the warranty standards established by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) which are identified in the ‘Residential Construction Performance Guidelines’ booklet. The booklet costs $75 and you do not need to be a member of NAHB in order to purchase a copy. But, like most everything, the devil is in the details so here are some warranty concerns and fixes as established by the NAHB. 

The observation is the wood subfloor squeaks or seems loose. The performance guideline states that although a totally ‘squeak-proof floor cannot be guaranteed, frequent loud squeaks are considered a deficiency’. The corrective measure is that the contractor will refasten or take other corrective action of any improperly installed or loose subfloor. However, this corrective action does not include removing the floor or ceiling finishes which may come as a surprise to a new homeowner. Another concern buyers may have is that a wood subfloor is not level. The performance guideline is that the floor should not slope more than one half inch in 20 feet. Deflections due to overloading by the consumer are not the contractor’s responsibility. Also, measurements for slope should be made across the room, not in a small area. 

We have all heard about septic system failures. Most occur over time but occasionally there is one that may be improperly installed. The performance guideline is that the septic system should function as designed and approved by the applicable local governing authority which is the Municipality of Anchorage. It is the contractor’s responsibility to correct any problem caused by improper installation. However, the consumer is responsible for the proper maintenance of the system. If consumer action is the cause, the consumer is responsible for correcting the problem. For example, placement of non-biodegradable or nominally biodegradable items should not be flushed and even excessive use of a food waste disposal can create a problem. Also, adding a fourth bedroom to a septic system designed for a three bedroom home can also create serious problems caused by the consumer. This problem frequently occurs where a homeowner takes it upon himself to finish a basement by adding a fourth bedroom, not realizing his original septic system was installed for a three bedroom home. Few homeowners go to the trouble of upgrading their septic system when remodeling particularly when they are doing it themselves.  

There are thousands of parts to our Alaskan homes and virtually 99% of those parts are imported. Alaska does not manufacture home building products so that is always an added risk not only for the consumer but the home builder. What is most important, however, is understanding what is a warranty issue, what is the appropriate fix and whether or not the problem has been created by the consumer.

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Dwell Realty
3230 C Street Suite 100
Anchorage AK 99503
907-646-3600