Perhaps luxury can best defined as something that is not essential but is expensive, desirable or valuable and provides comfort and enjoyment. At least that’s the definition that first pops up when you google the word. I’ve taken the liberty to add ‘enjoyment’. There are luxury cars, luxury wines, Gucci purses, and even gourmet cheeses. But, when it comes to housing luxury gets a little harder to define because not everyone has the same desires or comfort needs in a home. For example, when I’m counselling a new home buyer I always use the kitchen faucet as a luxury example. You can have the builder grade $79 special or add a $5 in front of it and its suddenly $579. Most guests are not going to give it a second glance but if you’re the one who does the dishes, it may just be the one luxury item that you can touch and feel every day that gives you an added sense of comfort and enjoyment. So is it worth it? Absolutely.
Luxury homes in Anchorage start at a million dollars-with or without that faucet. So far in 2019, there have been 21 homes sold in this price range according to Multiple Listing Service. There are also 21 currently for sale. MLS reports they sell at the rate of 1.43 per month. Most likely, there have also been a handful of non-MLS million dollar sales as it is not unusual for some homes in this price point to be sold privately.
Luxury homes in Anchorage almost always have a homesite amenity such as lake frontage with a float plane dock; a private air strip out your back door; an acre plus lot; or an unobstructed inlet view (not over rooftops). MLS reports 27 residential lot sales over $200,000 which is considered the base price for a luxury homesite. As much as we all love our mountains, their view adds some value but not as much as a view of the inlet. However, that view does enable faster marketing time. There are also luxury homes over $1 million that have neither acreage nor an inlet view. So what is special about them? Most are clustered near the downtown area in Bootlegger’s Cove or Old Turnagain. These original pre-statehood neighborhoods have what I would call historical prestige. To live there is to be part of Anchorage’s history.
Many of the older luxury homes built before the year 2000 have five to ten thousand square feet of living space. Now that they are twenty years old or more, they risk losing value due to cosmetic and functional obsolescence. Sellers can spend tens of thousand of dollars to update them and still not receive a $300 price per square foot which is the minimum going rate for new construction luxury homes.
Any home in any price point can have that $579 faucet. Today, luxury features include upgraded appliances like Bosch or Miele; master bathrooms with wet areas; solid wood slab kitchen cabinet doors; floor to ceiling tile walls. The built-in jacuzzi is obsolete. So is carpet. And interestingly enough so is real wood. Luxury vinyl tile is the flooring choice for all homes, regardless of the price point. And according to a survey by NAHB, the two-story great room has become less desirable than even just five years ago. They’re heat grabbers, require expensive window coverings and changing those light bulbs requires hiring a handyman! What’s in now is a 12 foot ceiling.
Today’s luxury home is usually around three to four thousand square feet which is much smaller than the hillside mansions built twenty and thirty years ago. They have larger kitchens with center island for social gathering rather than cooking; a spa master bathroom almost as large as the master bedroom; an attached garage over 1,000 square feet. Many luxury home buyers choose to build rather than buy someone else’s ‘luxury’. But, like the McMansions of the past, care should be taken to not over customize the home because eventually it will become a resale property.