Anchorage Homes Affordable Starter Homes for First Time Home Buyers
by Dan Wolf
on Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 at 4:07pm.
Smaller homes, sometimes called "entry level", starter homes or even first-time buyer homes are generally the most sought after homes in any market. That is because at the lower end of the market there are more buyers looking for a nice, clean affordable home to get started in. As families get larger and build equity, many families tend to need, or want, larger homes.
In Anchorage, the availability of building lots or should I say "suitable land for development", isn't plentiful. I know that sounds odd, because Alaska is the largest State in the U.S., right? The reason for the land shortage is because Anchorage is sandwiched between the Chugach Range mountains, also known as the Anchorage hillside, and Cook Inlet which borders Anchorage on the south and west sides. Some of the land in Anchorage contains too much peat, or soils that are overburdened with organics that hold water. A foundation cannot be built on this sort of soil. To remove the peat and bring in good gravel that is suitable for building is very expensive in Anchorage. Scarcity, and the high cost of development drives the cost of the land up, which makes the homes more expensive in the end.
There are alternatives, however. If home-buyers want to, or need to be close to or in the city, they can consider a smaller lot called a patio lot or even what Anchorage people call zero-lot lines. A patio lot is just a smaller lot that has houses as close at 10 or 15 feet apart in some cases. A zero-lot line is a term that describes a type of home build like a duplex; the term "zero-lot line" means there is no separation between the houses - they are actually attached like a duplex only with stricter construction codes for sound and fire-wall separation. These are less expensive in-town housing alternatives to being very close to your job in Anchorage.
A commute to Eagle River about 20 minutes north of Anchorage is a possibility. Eagle River and Chugach are small "bedroom communities" within half hour commute of Anchorage where there may be possibilities of larger lots and slightly better prices.
About an hour north of Anchorage are the communities of Palmer and Wasilla. Both of these towns certainly offer more home for the money and large home-sites.
With interests being at such historically low levels, home affordability is better now than in many, many years. This is because homes haven't really increased in price in several years, and with lower payments due to the interests, it takes a smaller paycheck to make today's monthly payment.
Both the State of Alaska and Federal give incentives to encourage home ownership. In many cases, interest rates are even lower for first time home buyers, there may be breaks on the amount of cash down-payment and qualifying "debt to income" ratios can be more favorable to buyers who are buying their first home.
If you are dreaming of your first home, contact any of us at Wolf Real Estate Professionals to talk about what you are looking for in a home.