Connie Yoshimura

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Tug-of-war between builders and subs produces price pressure

Alaska requires homebuilders to have a general contractor’s license plus a residential endorsement. They are also required to be licensed, bonded and insured.

However, a new homebuyer isn’t likely to find one of them wearing a carpenter’s belt and working on the job site. According a study by the National Association of Home Builders, it takes 22 subcontractors to build the average home.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Time may have come for more mixed-use in Anchorage

In Anchorage, we’re hearing more and more about the opportunities for mixed-use developments but what exactly does it mean for consumers and taxpayers?

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Evaluating Anchorage property tax assessments

Every year on Jan. 15, the Municipality of Anchorage is required to mail assessment notices to property owners for all taxable property.

That date begins a 30-day appeal period. Feb. 29 is the last day to submit evidence for appeals and during mid-March to June, the Board of Equalization, consisting of private citizens, hears the appeals. Very few property owners actually file a formal appeal and most minor appeals are handled at the counter, which is efficient and friendly, given all the circumstances.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Past is not always the future in home sales

A fourth quarter surge in activity brought 2016 within field goal range of 2015 home sales.

Year-end sales for Anchorage came in just shy of 3,000, down only 58 sales from 2015. The late fall mortgage rate jump up to 4.325 percent for a 30-year fixed loan jolted both buyers and sellers into making buying and selling decisions even though the rate increase had been long expected.

The year ended down only 2 percent in sales volume and, according to MLS, sale prices on average held at $366,000 for a single family home.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Adding up the costs vs. the value of a home remodel

According to the cost vs. value report published by Hanley Wood LLC, in 2014, mid-range remodeling projects vary greatly when comparing actual job cost to resale value.

One project where owners can expect a 100 percent return, particularly in Alaska’s cold climate, is the addition of a garage. That job cost is estimated at $55,120 and has a resale value of $57,500 that, interestingly enough, is significantly more than an appraisal gives for a garage.

Interest rate jump wakes up Anchorage homebuyers

This month’s mortgage interest rate jump up to 4.125 percent has sent buyers scampering to find a new home.

The week before Thanksgiving, 45 homes pended in Anchorage compared to 27 in 2015. That trend continued into Thanksgiving week when six additional sales were reported compared to 2015.

These sales occurred in all price ranges but particularly noteworthy were five new sales between $650,000 to $750,000.

Homeowners’ associations can add value to community

Homeowners’ associations, or HOA, are a necessity in today’s world of residential development.

Whether it’s a condominium or single family development, any new community that has a common area, including signage easements, greenbelts, perimeter fencing, is subject to the uniform Common Interest Ownership Act requiring a public offering statement be given to each and every buyer.

And every common ownership community must have an association that consists of a board of directors which oversees the enforcement of the covenants, codes and restrictions for the community.

Latest data shows continuing decline in new construction

The Municipality of Anchorage recently released its building permit summary through September 2016.

As expected, it showed a continual slide in the construction of new housing units whether multi-family, duplex or single family.

At the same time, according to the report, cost per unit has increased, an indication that new housing units are feeling the impact of the implementation of the new Title 21 regulations.

What is also interesting is the increase in both residential and commercial alterations.

Buyers are hesitant and inventory is up

The 2016 Anchorage residential market could best be described as having had a minor fender bender, not the fatal crash so many naysayers predicted for the housing market.

Thousands of owners have not turned in their keys to the bank like they did in the 1980s. In fact, Alaska continues to rank in the bottom three states for foreclosures. Values have remained constant with minor pockets of decline due to aging housing stock and in some geographical areas.

Why 'new' costs so much

Robert Dietz, the National Association of Home Builders’ chief economist, in a speech to Anchorage’s real estate industry this month, predicted a mortgage rate hike to 4.1 percent in 2017 and 4.9 percent by 2018 compared to our current rate of 3.5 percent for conventional financing.

Dietz’s presentation also addressed the constraints on building growth as witnessed in Anchorage that continues to face historic lows for single family permits. He called them the “three L’s.”

Are home inspectors overreaching their regulatory authority?

Selling a home is a four step negotiating process. Step one is deciding the asking price in consultation with your realtor.

Step two is negotiating the price and terms of any offer that you receive. Step three is negotiating the recommended list of repair items from a home inspection report.

Step four is any change in the final sales price as a result of the appraisal coming in less than the agreed upon sales price.

Residential building permits continue lagging in Anchorage

Despite all the organizations, committees and public discourse dedicated to Anchorage’s need for more and affordable housing, the Municipality of Anchorage continues to have historically low residential building permits.

For the first half of 2016, Anchorage had only 106 single family permits, a 40 percent decline from 2015 and the lowest permit numbers in more than six years. Duplexes fared little better with 30 units (a 30 percent decline) and multi-family had the lowest number of units permitted in the last five years with 54 permits, compared to 220 year-to-date in 2015.

Ranch homes emerging as favored choice in Anchorage

MLS recently reported that 65 ranch homes in Anchorage have sold since the first of the year and 20 are now pending. There are 45 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 55 days, slightly less than all MLS combined inventory.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: When buying or renting, how much is ‘pretty’ worth to you?

Buyers zip through online websites looking for the home of their dreams. They discard homes based on the exterior photo and move on to a dozen or sometimes a hundred different properties. At open houses, probably 50 percent of those who thought they were interested in the home, simply drive right by it, rejecting the outside appearance of the home.

So, yes, pretty does matter whether it’s for a single family home and for a small investor looking to make his first duplex or four-plex investment.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Redevelopment may not solve affordability problem

Mark Twain said, “Buy land because they don’t make any more.” I always believed that but recent changes in housing may make that statement no longer as true as it once was.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Anchorage home market shifts from sellers to buyers

According to the Multiple Listing Service, residential active listing inventory in the Municipality of Anchorage bumped up to over 900 units for sale in April and May, similar to the available inventory in 2010, turning the Anchorage market into more of a buyer’s market than a seller’s.

Just a year ago, inventory was in the 600 for sale range for the same months. At that time, frustrated buyers dealt with competitive multiple offers on homes with some offering more than listed price.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Test your knowledge of the Southcentral real estate market

1. Has the average sales price of Anchorage homes increased or decreased year-to-date when compared to the 2015 average price?

2. By what percentage has this increase or decrease occurred?

3. Has the number of residential sales for the first four months of 2016 increased or decreased when compared to the same time last year?

4. How many home sales have occurred in the first four months of 2016 as reported in MLS?

5. In the last six months, how many million-dollar homes listed in MLS have sold?

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: As you may have guessed, Anchorage home listings on rise

As you might have suspected, Anchorage inventory has continued to increase over the past few weeks.

Spring and early summer is the time of year when sellers like to put their homes on the market and our uncertain economic outlook has no doubt helped increase Anchorage’s inventory.

A snapshot of a week’s inventory of available homes in May when compared to the same time in 2015, shows a 64 percent increase in active for sale single family homes. On May 2, 2015, there were 428 homes for sale; on May 2, 2016, there were 702.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Anchorage’s housing shortage continues

Anchorage, Alaska’s largest metropolitan area, continues to face a housing shortage due to the lack of new construction activity that has been exacerbated by the implementation of the new Title 21 land use regulations.

As the chart demonstrates, new single family permits have been at a steady decline since 2013 and the decline from 2015 to 2016 is a whopping 50 percent. For the first quarter of 2016, Anchorage had only 26 single family permits, a historic low. Only 14 duplex units were permitted compared to 26 just a year ago.

House or condominium, know your rules for landscaping

This is the time of year when everyone’s thoughts turn to landscaping and outdoor maintenance.

Whether it’s buying that Bell’s hanging basket for your deck or installing a brand new yard, each homeowner and condo association is unique in their rules and requirements when it comes to landscaping.

Prospective homebuyers should carefully review the public offering statement or resale certificate prior to their purchase so they are aware of what the homeowners association, or HOA, expects of them regarding the installation and maintenance of landscaping.


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