Anchorage has had sixteen homes sell so far this year with an original list price between $700,000 and $850,000. There are also six pending sales and currently nine homes for sale in this price range. One home sold downtown built in 1939 and a bluff home sold that was built in 1975. However, half of the pending and sold homes have been built since 2000. The more recently built homes vary in price per square foot between $185 and $337, depending on location and style with ranches being the most expensive and homes with basements the least expensive per square foot. Although we frequently lament the high cost of our housing, the price per square foot and age of these homes seem modest when compared to some lower ’48 markets.
In San Antonio, Texas, a home built in 1902 with 3,637 square feet has an asking price of $695,000. It was recently remodeled in 2015 and is located in an eclectic historic district I suspect similar to our original township. Price per square foot is $191. In the center of Houston on a cul-de-sac, a newer home built in 1981 has an asking price of $689,000 and is 1,916 square feet. That $360 price per square foot is higher in this price range than any new construction reported in Anchorage through MLS. The location of the cul-de-sac is inside the Inter-state 610 loop around the center of Houston which is famous for its lack of zoning. Although, it’s been several years since I’ve been to Houston, I’m assuming this area is similar to the subdivisions in southeast Anchorage where most lots are serviced by public utilities and are less than a quarter of an acre. The lot for this home is 0.11 acres.
In Omaha, Nebraska, which is home to Warren Buffett and his conglomerate of Berkshire Hathaway companies, a 1975 home with three bedrooms and three baths has an asking price of $715,000 and sits on a quarter acre lot. With 3,890 square feet, it calculates to $184 a foot. In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, about forty miles south of Philadelphia, you can buy a 1,296 square foot stone cottage built around 1705 for $699,000! I think I’ll pass on that one as I’m not much of an historic preservation buff.
What’s interesting about all these homes, however, is that they all have outdoor spaces which add to the value of the property. Some have a summer cottage perhaps similar to our accessory dwelling units. Others have multiple seating areas, terraces, landscaped lighting, sculpture gardens, extra parking and detached garages. Anchorage homeowners are also wanting these exterior amenities. Almost every new home buyer wants a deck larger than the customary 4 x 8 builder provided deck. And almost all want the maintenance free Trex, even though its cost per square foot is about $12 to $20 more per square foot. The MOA also has a rule that requires any deck higher than 30 feet off the ground must have a rail and steps. More and more buyers are also looking for enlarged or a supplemental detached garage. And despite moose and Alaska weather, more and more home buyers are spending thousands on landscaping, even if for a brief summer aesthetic. So maybe Anchorage homeowners aren’t so different than the rest of the country when it comes to wants and desires. And maybe our homes aren’t as old and expensive as we’ve been lead to believe.