Hello, again. Iâ€™m Connie Yoshimura, a local residential real estate associate broker. Itâ€™s been 18 years since Iâ€™ve written publicly about whatâ€™s happening in the local real estate market and people still ask me about those real estate columns I wrote for ten years at the Anchorage Daily News and the Anchorage Times. But, now, instead of print, they will appear every Monday morning at 6 am on my blog at cyalaska.com but you already know that because youâ€™re here.
Communication has changed but what hasnâ€™t changed is the five basic reasons why buyers buy homes: marriage, birth, death, divorce and job change. And there is a significant number of buyers who want a brand new home as opposed to Anchorageâ€™s aging housing inventory. And, if they can afford it, they want a single family home.
So who are Anchorageâ€™s most prolific single family home builders? Whoâ€™s survived the worst real estate recession since the Great Depression and whoâ€™s poised to embrace the newly emerging household formations with innovative floor plans? Who should you call if youâ€™re thinking about having a new home built?
The number one builder, based upon single family permits only in Anchorage and Eagle River over the past 18 months, isÂ Spinell HomesÂ with 63 permits. Spinell builds homes in WestPark (where he owns a couple of tracts), Eagle Crossing, Ridgmont (a development he created) and Powder Ridge. Heâ€™s also doing a fair amount of presales on individual owner lots.
Merit HomesÂ is # 2 with 28 permits. Relatively new to the home builder scene compared to many on the list of top builders, the company is owned by Chris Petersen. Chris builds at the Terraces, the former gravel pit on Lake Otis Blvd which was repossessed by First National Bank during the recession and in a variety of upper end subdivisions. He has a reputation for efficiency and takes less time to construct than a lot of custom or semi-custom home builders.
Number three is a well-recognized builder,Â John Hagmeier Homes, with 21 permits. You probably recognize the name because Johnâ€™s been building homes for over 30 years in Anchorage and Eagle River. His resale homes have the frequent distinction of being advertised as a â€˜John Hagmeier Homeâ€™. John builds primarily in subdivisions where he has an interest in the land. Currently, you can find his homes in Eagle Pointe, WestPark, and Potter View. He also does presales on an ownerâ€™s lot if it fits one of his plans.
Next on the list isÂ Six M Cedar HomesÂ with 20 permits, the majority of which are in Scenic Park View, at the curve where Tudor Road turns into Muldoon. This subdivision was repossessed by Northrim Bank which has hired Six M to build out the subdivision. It has done surprisingly well due to its near entry level price point.
New to the list is Cook Inlet Housing Authority, Alaskaâ€™s largest non-profit who is building homes in Mountain View. This non-profit entered the construction business several years ago in Mt. View and continues to build single family homes targeting qualified lower income residents.
Hultquist HomesÂ has had 16 single family permits. Dave Hultquist, owner of Hultquist Homes, owns several companies. White Raven Development developed WestPark where all of Hultquist Homesâ€™ single family permits have been the last 18 months. He also owns Builders Choice, a truss and panelization company.
Colony Builders, who is both a homebuilder and land developer, has had 10 permits.WoodBuilt HomesÂ has had 12 permits andÂ Harding HomesÂ has had 11 single family permits in Anchorage and Eagle River. Evan Harding is also building out Dove Tree, the duplex condo site in downtown Eagle River, for Northrim Bank who repossessed the development over a year ago.
Itâ€™s been a very tough two years in the residential construction business but these companies have found a way to survive, and although, no one would say prosperity is around the corner yet for these builders, theyâ€™ve proven themselves to be nimble enough in the market place to survive. For some, it was with a little help from local lenders who needed to have their repossessed inventory of land built out or sold in a cooperative manner. Others cut their payroll and went back to work themselves. Others bought land/lots at distressed prices and in turn offered up the homes on the lots at reasonable prices.
But the real key to survivability in the coming few years is how these builders will adapt to the changing household formations. Some are building the same plans they have been for twenty years. Some have spruced up their elevations, adding stone, shingles, different pitched roofs et cetera. Others simply enlarge a 2,000 square foot home to 3,000 square feet and call it a custom home. Every builder, regardless of their size, or the square footage of their homes, needs a ranch plan and a first floor master, in their portfolio to satisfy the aging baby boomer of which I am one. They also need to recognize adult children living at home and the need for the mother-in-law suite. There is growing recognizing in the home buying community that big is not necessarily betterâ€”itâ€™s just more taxes, higher utility bills and more hand and home maintenance. Thereâ€™s a plethora of buyersâ€™ needs out there and one size doesnâ€™t fit everyoneâ€™s pocket book or lifestyle. The builders who will survive and prosper the next five years are those that will tap into that diversity.