As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, July 2008.
Although moose reportedly still pop up in the streets of Anchorage, Alaska, the city actually is seeing decidedly urban development and growth.
What the Locals Say _____________________________________
"In Anchorage, we have very, very limited undeveloped land left that is buildable. Consequently, a lot of larger builders in the past four to five years have moved their operations to the Wasilla and Palmer areas. Now, though, we see an increase in gas prices, and people don't want to live out there anymore. They want to live here, where they work.
-- Joe Brammer, senior loan officer, 1st Metropolitan Mortgage, and president, Alaska Association of Mortgage Brokers
Alaska's largest city, which is home to more than 40 percent of state's population, expects to add 1,000 jobs this year -- its 20th-consecutive year of job growth.
Area real estate experts also point to a housing market in the city -- and in Alaska as a whole -- that hasn't experienced the same woes as the lower 48 states. Many attribute this to the low number of nonprime mortgages taken in the city. In 2004, near the peak of nonprime originations, these loans comprised 12.4 percent of home purchases and 17 percent of refinances in Anchorage. The U.S. averages for that year were 15.7 percent for purchases and 21.3 percent for refinances, according to Dataplace.org. Experts also say the state's low foreclosure rate and small number of housing speculators are factors.
Although Anchorage's housing market has indeed slowed, home values are stable. In fact, the city's home prices have just a 2.1-percent chance of falling in the next two years, according to the PMI Group, compared to a more-than 90-percent chance in some of the country's riskier areas.
Area experts say that this -- along with still-low interest rates -- is balancing the market and bringing it back to levels seen in the 1990s.
↑ Population: 278,700
Population in 2000: 260,283
Rank (U.S.): 65th-largest
Metropolitan-area population: 359,180
Metropolitan-area rank (U.S.): 137th-largest
↓ Average commute: 17.6 minutes
Average commute in 2000: 19.5 minutes
U.S: 25 minutes
↑ Median household income: $63,656
Median household income in 2000: $55,546
↑ Median age: 33.5 years
Median age in 2000: 32.4 years
U.S.: 36.4 years
↑ Inflation (Consumer Price Index, 2nd half 2007): 2.9 percent
Inflation in 2nd half 2006: 2.2 percent
U.S.: 3.1 percent
↑ Unemployment: 6.4 percent
Unemployment in March 2007: 5.7 percent
U.S.: 5.1 percent
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