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Remodeling is Not Home Maintenance

by Connie Yoshimura


Ten years ago I did a major remodel. There was new carpeting in the bedrooms, luxury vinyl tile in the kitchen and hallway, an interior paint job that took three coats, double ovens so I can bake two batches of cookies at the same time, a fancy hood above a new stove top  and a bi-level granite island that seats six.  Then, like a lot of busy people I  forgot about my home except for the yearly furnace inspection.  Now, what I’ve learned is that remodeling is not home maintenance.  Owning a home requires annual upkeep if it is to retain its value and/or appreciate.   Buyers intuitively recognize a home that has been well cared for over the years.  Yes, carpet needs to be replaced at least every ten years, especially if you have pets which I do and all those nicks on corners that you don’t see any more need a touch-up.


So here are some home maintenance items  that need my and perhaps your attention.  Change the air filter in your HVAC system every three months during the winter.  Today’s energy efficient homes have a slower rate of air exchange than older homes and can trap every day odors.   Turn on infrequently used fixtures.  I have a tub/shower combo that is never used and it emits a strange odor every once in a while.  In Alaska, we all love our fireplaces, especially during the dark days and the upcoming holiday season.  Now is the time to inspect and clean the flues. A chimney cleaning professional  should inspect and clean your fireplace at least every five years.


Many of us have minor cracks as a result of the earthquake or just normal settling.  Any crack that is wider than ¼” should be repaired.   Make sure the handyman you hire feathers the edges and sands them smooth.  Roofs don’t last forever and need regular inspections.  Seventy-five per cent of Anchorage’s housing stock is now thirty years old or more.  It’s better to repair and replace the roof than suffer the expense and inconvenience of leaks which can cause major damage to your home.   Whether you have stain resistant carpeting, hardwood floors, luxury vinyl tile or ceramic tile with grout, it is one of the most important areas of your home to upkeep.  I still have a broken tile in my breezeway when a treadmill was dropped on it.  I think about replacing it every day as I walk over it.

So owning a home requires a lot of maintenance.  It goes far beyond general house cleaning-- making the bed, doing the dishes and vacuuming.  But the reward is  a sustainable or added value when it’s time to sell.  The National Association of Home Builders has an 82 page manual, “Home Maintenance Made Easy.  What to do, When to do it, When to call for Help.” 

Keep Your Cool When Buying or Selling a Home

by Connie Yoshimura

Selling a home is not as easy as it used to be. In today’s market, it all boils down to market knowledge and negotiating skills. First, and foremost is the negotiation with yourself to determine your home’s fair market value. You may have lived in the home for twenty years and have fond memories of birthday parties, neighborhood get togethers. But those memories have nothing to do with the home’s fair market value. Whether you’re working with a realtor or just trying to determine fair market value for yourself, age is the number one criteria to consider. That’s because homes built within five years of one another almost always have the same interior amenities and floor plans. If you own a split/entry, do not comp it to a two-story or a ranch. And stay in your geographical area. Each geographical quadrant has its own market. The same floor plan, age and square footage can deviate in value as much as $20,000 depending on its geographical area. Ignore the inaccuracies of Zillow and Trulia and search on  You’ll find more accurate information utilizing this statewide data base.

Once you have your asking price, get ready for an offer. In today’s market, some homes sell in one day. Others take the average of 45 days. And some linger on the market for months.  You don’t want the latter.  There’s a saying in the market that the first offer is your best offer and in many instances that’s true.  Don’t reject an offer just because you feel insulted. Every offer deserves a counter and make it a reasonable one.   I recently spent four days negotiating a lot sale before buyer and seller agreed.  Buyers need information and so much of that negotiation was providing info on wells, septics, soils, topo, HOA dues, et cetera.  The more information a buyer has before making an offer the more reasonable a seller can expect it to be.

And now it’s time for the dreaded home inspection. As a seller, take a pre-emptive strike and order your own before putting the home on the market. I can almost guarantee that your buyer’s home inspector will have fewer ‘recommended’ repairs if there’s already been a pre-inspection by the seller. Just remember, home inspectors are paid to find something wrong with the home, whether it’s health and safety, recommended repairs or maintenance. In today’s market, this is where most deals fall apart.  Both buyer and seller need to be reasonable. Buyers need to understand they are not purchasing a brand new five star energy rated home.  And sellers need to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe. they haven’t done as much maintenance as they should have over the past twenty years. Deferred maintenance can easily devalue a home by thousands of dollars so take care of those items before putting it on the market.

The final negotiation comes about with the appraisal. Most residential sales utilize the standard MLS purchase and sale agreement (PSA) which clearly states that if the appraisal comes in less than the agreed upon purchase price, buyers and sellers have an opportunity to renegotiate the purchase price.  We recently had a very low VA appraisal that was filled with errors. However, especially with a VA appraisal, there is absolutely no opportunity to correct mistakes made by the appraiser.  Appeals can take weeks or months and by then both buyer and seller have parted ways. Since the real estate crisis of 2008, appraisals have been ordered by independent third parties for the benefit of the lender. Unfortunately, what a willing buyer and seller have agreed upon for a sale price is irrelevant. When a low ball appraisal comes in, everyone is unhappy but the smart buyers and sellers keep negotiating.  And most often, it is the seller who ends up giving the most.  

For most buyers and sellers, the purchase or sale of a home is the largest financial transaction of their lifetime.  Some people do it once; others multiple times. But regardless of the number, the key to a successful sale is market knowledge and a fair and reasonable attitude.  

How’s the market? Find Out When You Take this Quiz!

by Connie Yoshimura

Everywhere I go people ask ‘How’s the market?’  Potential buyers are wondering if mortgage rates are going to go lower.  They also want to know if we’re at the bottom of the market.  My response to that question is ‘You never know when the bottom of the market is until it’s past.’  So take this real estate quiz and draw your own conclusions whether or not now is a good time to buy a home.  

 1.Is September’s condo inventory of 360  units the highest or lowest it’s been since 2016?

2. Is September’s active listings of 578 the highest or lowest since September 2011?

3. What was the average sales price of a single family home in September 2019?  

4. And is this price higher, lower or about the same when compared to 2018?

5. Last month there were 192 single family sales.  How many were there in Sept. 2018? 

6. Sellers who list their home with a broker in MLS can expect a full price offer or what percent list to original price?

7. How many million dollar and above homes are there currently for sale in MLS?

A. 13     B. 23     C. 28     D. More than 28

8. In the last six months, what was the average days on the market before a sale?

A. 154 days      B. 46  days     C. 38 days

9. What area of Anchorage has the highest average sales price?

A. Downtown     B. Abbott/De Armoun     C.  Girdwood       D. De Armoun Road/Potter Marsh

10. And what was the average highest sales price for that area?

A. $469,000    B.  550,441       C. $601,000

11. Lets not forget about Eagle  River.  How many homes above $700,000 have sold in the past 12 months?

A. 7      B. 17    C. 27

12. How many homes between $350,000 and $500,000 have sold in the past 12 months?

A. 53   B. 83   C. 153  D. 253

13. What percentage of millenials will buy a home in the next five years, according to a 2019 survey by the National Association of Home Builders?

A. 34%    B.  44%   C.  54%     D.  64%   E.  74%

14. If the average 6,000 square foot lot with public water/sewer and on a dedicated public street maintained by the MOA costs $140,000, what percentage of the cost is due to regulations relating  zoning, platting, private development design criteria regulations?  This calculation is based on the National Association of Home Builders research.

A. 9%     B. 19%     C. 29%

15.Based upon the answers to the questions, do you believe now is a good time to purchase a home?

ANSWER KEY:1. Lowest   2. Lowest   3. $380,490   4. Lower   5. 193   6. 97%   7. B   8. B   9. D   10. C   11. A   12. D   13. E   14. C   15. Yes!

Use Your PFD to Grab a Low Mortgage Rate and Buy a Home

by Connie Yoshimura

I know it’s tempting to use that PFD to vacation in Hawaii, buy a new TV with all the latest technology or even pay off that F-150 truck with the extended cab but there is no better use for your PFD than to make a real estate investment whether you’re a first time homebuyer or looking for an initial  small rental investment.   Real estate has proven time and time again as the one leveraged opportunity for the working and middle class to create wealth.  Owning a single family home has a greater opportunity to build wealth than even muni bonds with a 4% return.  That return is based on cash invested.  A real estate purchase is generally a leveraged investment with appreciation and depreciation based upon the total purchase price.

This week mortgage rates dropped to historic lows, making a real estate purchase even more attractive.  For veterans wanting to purchase with the triple zero down program, rates dropped to 3%  for a 30 year fixed rate.   This program also allows for sellers to pay some buyer’s closing costs.  The HUD 184 program with only 2.25% down now has an interest rate of 3.25%.  The AHFC Tax Exempt first time home buyer’s program with 5% down has an incredible low rate of 3.375%.  Conventional loans with 3% down have an interest rate of 4%.   All of these programs allow for gift funds and seller to pay a portion or all of buyer’s closing costs.

However, if you’ve been waiting for that perfect home or investment to come on the market, you might want to up your game.  Last week there were 715 active single family homes for sale in Anchorage.  A year ago, there was 792. Just over 50 homes sold last week and a year ago as well. Condo inventory has also fallen with 360 active condos on the market in August compared to 439 in 2018.

So despite all the negative concerns about our state budget cuts, the Anchorage real estate market has remained very stable due to lack of inventory.  Now, this week’s lower interest rates coupled with the state’s distribution of  the PFD, buyers should get off the fence and make a decision.  At least, that’s what I’m going to do.    

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4




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Dwell Realty
561 E. 36th Ave., Suite 200
Anchorage AK 99503