INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Anchorage housing crunch pushes buyers to multi-family
According to the National Association of Homebuilders, there are nine groupings of homebuyers in America.
Those nine groups include the young single, older single, single parent, young couple, mature couple, older couple, young family, middle family, and mature family. Each group is then broken down by income, age, and family description, including traditional or blended, in the family category.
Alaska’s demographics fit well into these various groups with a growing population of the mature family (aging baby boomers) and the emerging millennials as young single, single parent, and young couple (with or without children).
However, unlike communities in the Lower 48, such as Las Vegas and Phoenix, which are once again experiencing growth in new home starts, Southcentral Alaska is falling behind and failing to meet the housing demand for all of the home buying groups.
According to the recent Building Owners and Managers Association presentation, Anchorage lacks hundreds housing units not built over the past five years. Even taking into consideration an estimated population dip of 1,800 in Anchorage (with an average family size of 2.65) Anchorage’s shortfall is still critical.
With remaining Anchorage land having poor soils, wetlands, and topographical challenges, along with the ever increasing cost for the extension of roads, water and sewer, due to changing regulations of the type of pipe and required road insulation, Anchorage’s housing shortage will continue to spiral out of the affordability index for most of the nine home-buying groups.
As a result, more and more homebuyers are going to be forced to turn to multi-family housing if they want the convenience of living relatively close to employment centers. But even those multi-family choices are limited to older, attached zero lot lines without adequate covenant, codes, and restrictions to preserve value; or 1980s condos, many of which have inadequate reserves and may face special assessments in the near future.
Most multi-family zoned land (R2, R2M, R3, R4) has been eaten up by the duplex style condo, a plethora of which was built during the 1990s. However, a small but emerging market some buyers may turn to is the owner–occupied duplex, triplex, or fourplex.
Whether brand new (if you can find one) or an older property, mortgage financing is readily available with as little as zero down for Veterans’ Affairs financing, or 3.5 percent down payment for Federal Housing Administration.
Mortgage loan amounts for owner occupied duplexes are as high as $800,000. Thirty-year fixed rate mortgages are at 3.65 percent, and the preferred 15-year mortgage, if you can afford the monthly payment, which will save you tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the mortgage, is only 3 percent.
Brand new duplexes or fourplexes are going to be expensive. The two most expensive rooms of any home are the kitchen and bathrooms, and multi-family doubles or quadruples their numbers.
However, savvy homebuyers in all groups are beginning to recognize the value of letting a renter help with the mortgage. Even if the renter only provides enough income for the taxes, insurance, and the rising cost of utilities, it’s a monthly cash contribution to the homeowner.
I belong to the aging baby boomer group. As a tenant new to Anchorage, I lived in a duplex on Barbara Street. As an owner, I’ve lived in a Petersen Tower condo, on the hillside, an attached townhome, and a luxury single family home. I also owned and lived in a Bootlegger Cove fourplex that I regret ever selling, and for the past 19 years a duplex just five minutes from my office. I’m a good example of how our housing needs change as we pass through the various home buying stages.
Connie Yoshimura is the broker/owner of Dwell Realty. Contact her at 907-646-3670 or [email protected].