Connie Yoshimura

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Friendlier building permit regime gives Mat-Su an edge over Anchorage

According to the latest census data for 2015, Anchorage has lost 1,458 residents when compared to 2014 while her popular neighbor to the north, the Mat-Su Borough gained 1,801.

How many of Anchorage’s lost neighbors became residents of the Mat-Su is hard to calculate, but anyone who’s driven the Glenn Highway in the past 12 months can attest to the growing long line of traffic back and forth.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Anchorage condo market holds steady so far in 2016

Condo sales in the Municipality of Anchorage have remained consistent year-to-date when compared to the same time as last year, and prices are stable with only 0.82 percent increase from 2015.

This bodes well for the first-time homebuyer and downsizers who are looking to scale back their square footage and utility expenses. It is also indicative of the continued interest and activity in the lower price ranges of the Anchorage market.

Why 2016 is not 1986 for the Anchorage real estate market

There’s been lots of talk from a wide variety of experts about the demise of the housing market in 2016 and comparing it to the real estate crash of 1986. But, there’s one important difference that everyone seems to have forgotten.

In 1986 mortgage interest rates were 10.19 percent for a 30-year fixed rate loan. Today, that rate is 3.75 percent for the same loan. When comparing the rate on a $500,000 mortgage, the math is shocking.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: How to get what you want when building a new home

All across the nation (and Alaska being no exception), buyers are demanding extras, upgrades, and changes to stock housing plans that have been the mainstay of builders profitability for the past 20 years.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Anchorage’s mixed-use rules reflect mixed-up priorities

During the 10 years of negotiation and conflict over the new Title 21 land use regulations which finally became ordinance in January 2016, the Municipality of Anchorage planning department held firm on their vision of encouraging mixed-use development by creating new zoning categories as one avenue to solving Anchorage’s housing shortage.

However, what works on paper and theory isn’t necessarily financially feasible in reality. In other words, mixed-use in Anchorage has yet to be “ground tested” on new, non-subsidized, vertically-integrated projects.

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.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Some takeaways from the International Builders Show

One-hundred-twenty Alaskans made the trek to the International Builders Show in Las Vegas last week, along with over 100,000 other builders, developers, remodelers, bankers, economists, suppliers, and a potty mouth Jay Leno, who opened the show.

Three years ago, the IBS merged with the Kitchen and Bath Show and the Design/Build Week, creating the largest trade show in the U.S. In addition to the Alaskans, there were builders and developers from China, South Korea, and Europe.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: A snapshot of Anchorage housing as oil prices plunge

In Anchorage, a home in an upscale subdivision was recently put on the market for $25,000 less than the buyer paid for it 17 months ago. The seller is a relocation company most likely hired by an oil, or oil field service, company to dispose of a departing employee’s primary residence.

The $25,000 amounts to a 3 percent reduction from the original purchase price paid by the employee to the builder. 

Terrible timing for the 836 pages of Title 21 to take effect

The implementation of the new Title 21 scheduled for Jan. 1, 2016, couldn’t come at a worse time for builders and developers. Originally conceived during the housing boom of the mid-2000’s, it was meant to create a more aesthetically pleasing new age community. Ten years later it is bogged down in 836 pages of design criteria that is both expensive and impractical in today’s economic environment.

Title 21 and tight inventory: A look at the 2016 market

There are five major reasons why people buy and sell homes. Those reasons are marriage, birth, death, divorce, and job change. Add (in parenthesis) the investor to that list and you have the universal buy/sell equation and Anchorage is no different.

How to decipher a condo homeowners association budget

Not all condos are created the same and therefore not all homeowners association budgets will be alike. A townhouse style condo generally sits on a single tract of land. But it can also sit on a platted duplex or four-plex lot.

The road in front of the unit can be a private driveway or a publicly dedicated road. If it is a publicly dedicated road, it will be maintained by the municipality. Snow plowing and road maintenance will be paid for by the city. However, if it is a private road or driveway, it will need to be maintained by the homeowners association, or HOA.

Appraising the rules of the real estate appraisal process

Certified Real Estate Appraisers are regulated by State of Alaska Statutes and Regulations.

Under these regulations, an appraiser who holds a valid certificate or license from a state whose requirements for certification or licensing meet, or exceed Alaska’s certification standards may be engaged to appraise property in Alaska.

Tight Anchorage housing market will absorb job losses

Although the need for housing creates jobs in finance and construction, real estate is a reactive industry. We live and work within the market. We do not create or control it. 

Last week the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage unexpectedly dropped to 3.85 percent. This week, every eligible Alaskan will receive a record-breaking Permanent Fund dividend check of $2,072.

New state regulations in effect for hiring the 'Handyman'

We do it all the time, because we are too busy or just not “handy” around the house. Most likely, he or she has been recommended by a friend or co-worker. They might even be a relative between jobs we want to help out.

Owner-builders outpace traditional companies on permits

For the first half of 2015, Hultquist Homes has captured the No. 1 spot for the most single family permits with 21. Spinell Homes ranks No. 2 with 15. Both of these two top ranked builders also build duplexes and multi-family units in Anchorage.

Spinell has a significant presence in Eagle River and the Mat-Su Valley, while Hultquist Homes focuses their building in Anchorage and the Seattle area. However, both of these builders are outnumbered by the owner/builder category which has 27 permits for the first six months.

A new opportunity to solve Anchorage's housing crunch

With Mayor Ethan Berkowitz now firmly seated on the eighth floor of Anchorage’s City Hall, there is a new opportunity to solve Anchorage’s housing crisis. Listed as Priority Three on his transition report, the lack of housing in Alaska’s largest city, however, needs more than another committee or a “change in culture.”

Understanding the value of a lot

Not all lots are created equally, even within the same subdivision. Lot size, width and location are all factors to take into consideration when purchasing an undeveloped lot or a pre-owned home.

Of primary importance to many homebuyers is southern or western exposure, and where that sunlight falls in relationship to the home’s living spaces. Avid gardeners will not consider buying a home without southern exposure in the backyard.

Alaska communities have range of balance in home market

The Alaska Multiple Service (MLS) is a statewide organization that publishes a weekly market activity report of all new listings, pending (buyer and seller agreed) and sold transactions.

Although it may not reflect all activity in a market, it clearly represents the vast majority of residential transactions and provides insight into local housing activity and whether or not the market in certain communities has balance defined as an equal number of new, pending and sold properties.

10 questions to test your Southcentral real estate knowledge

Take this quiz and see how you score. You just might be surprised at some of the answers.

1. How does commercial and residential building activity in the Municipality of Anchorage, or MOA, through May 2015 compare to 2014? Consider government and commercial alteration as well as new permits.

a. Increase by 5 percent  

b. Decrease by 11.34 percent

c. Decrease by 22.68 percent 

d. No change

A guide to understanding real estate business practices

People who are eligible to list and sell real estate as a business and profession are licensed in the State of Alaska. They must pass a general knowledge test on real estate as well as a portion on real estate laws specific to Alaska.

However, none of the knowledge they are required to have deals with the intricacies of buying and selling real estate as a business practice. Two circumstances come to mind that create confusion with the consumer, as well as those who practice.


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