Monday, January 24, 2005

Anchorage New Home Construction Down 16%

New home permits issued by the Muncipality of Anchorage for 2004 dropped by 15.7% from the average of the previous four years. The permit valuation of all residential and commercial permit activity dropped 10.6% compared with 2003.

Single family home permits and duplexes totaled 1028 units for 2004, compared with 1309 for the prior year, a one-year decrease of 21.5%. The 2000-2003 four-year average was 1220 units. Site condos are mostly configured as duplexes and count in that total.

Meanwhile, in outlying areas like Eagle River, where only a land use permit is required, the past two years have seen a 38% increase in permits compared with the three prior years. Considering the land shortage in the Anchorage bowl, it makes sense that more homes are being built a little farther away.

The four-year average for multifamily units is 336, bolstered in part by the high of 622 units in 2003. Last year's total was 552, a one-year drop of 11.3%. Notwithstanding that one-year decline it's clear that apartments are under construction at a fair clip: in the last two years apartments were built at a rate this is double the average of the prior three years.

When you consider the economic activity associated with all residential and commercial building permit activity, however, the reports show an increase. The value of all permits last year was $649.4 million, 6.3% above the average of the previous four years.

These statistical report are found on the Municipality's web site at this address.

For full property searches, virtual tours and many other Anchorage real estate resources, visit

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Foreclosure Challenges

A buyer client liked a property they saw today and wanted to make an offer. When I spoke with the licensee representing the seller I learned the property is in foreclosure. It is due to go to foreclosure sale sooner than any sale would close. Most lenders will agree to postpone a sale if they will get proceeds sufficient to be paid off, including interest in arrears and foreclosure costs. Sometimes they will even take a "short payoff" instead of running further costs of foreclosure and marketing.

In the case of today's client, there is another buyer whose offer was accepted before we saw the property, so we are waiting in the wings. If they can't make that other offer work then we might jump in.

The Anchorage real estate market is so strong that it's unusual for a loan to go through foreclosure. There's usually enough equity through market appreciation that a seller in economic straights can sell the property and get clear. When foreclosures do occur, however, I am often hired by the asset managers to market the properties: I have two of them now, one on Division St. and a duplex coming up on 13th. As soon as I hear about one coming up I put it on my web site, Anchorage Real Estate:

For full property searches, virtual tours and many other Anchorage real estate resources, visit

Friday, January 21, 2005

Breakfast Meeting: Property Tax Assessments

I had breakfast with Larry Norene today. He and I served on the old Board of Equalization. Larry has an interesting take on the new exemption that gives owner-occupants a 10% discount off their assessed valuation, to a maximum of $20,000. Larry points out that the actual tax savings is not as much as you would think. This is because when assessed values are reduced by these discounts, the mill rates will go up so that enough revenue is collected to fund the budget.

By the way, you have to apply for the discount, so don't throw out the mailer you received this week. The Assessor's staff will be checking all applications against Permanent Fund records. Whether this is a good use of their time is debatable, so one has to wonder if this is perhaps a false savings.

For full property searches, virtual tours and many other Anchorage real estate resources, visit

Welcome to the Anchorage Real Estate blog

Welcome to the Anchorage real estate information blog. I've established this service as an easy way to post current real estate information of general interest. I'll include some thoughts on "best practices" for buying and selling. You are welcome to participate.

For full property searches, virtual tours and many other Anchorage real estate resources, visit