Alaska is the largest state and since Governor Sarah Palin hit the national scene, it's gotten even more attention. FSBO sellers and buyers of Alaska real estate continue to focus on how to sell and buy homes in Anchorage, Juneau, the Kenai Penisula, and elsewhere advantageously.
The boom market has slowed in Alaska as it has in much of the country.However, in Alaska, it merely seems a bit flat. Prices haven't "dropped like a rock" as they have in many places.Therefore, the old rule of thumb applies once more.If you're going to live in your home for at least three to five years, buying is probably a good idea financially.If you're planning to live there a year or so, renting may be a better option.
Known as "the great land," Alaska seems like a harsh, remote wilderness and certainly intimidating to those of us from the "lower 48." These assumptions may be blown away, however, once one visits and gets overwhelmed by nature at its best. Don't laugh.It's been known to happen.
From magnificent mountain ranges, to ocean shores, to glaciers, to raging rivers, Alaska is an outdoor enthusiast's dream.In a state that includes fully twenty percent of the total land mass of the United States, there is practically nothing that can't be found.
Anchorage is home to roughly forty percent of the human population of Alaska.Bears, moose, doll sheep, and the like seem to (mostly) prefer other areas.If you're flying to Alaska, Anchorage will probably be your destination.Anchorage is a sprawling city with its share of traffic, but the people are friendlier than in most big cities.Don't be surprised if the people at the next table start a conversation with you in a restaurant.Incidentally, Anchorage has a number of surprisingly upscale restaurants.Not cheap, but very good.Anchorage has been criticized as being "un-Alaskan," but it is the primary choice of home buyers who want to relocate to a city in Alaska.
According to trulia.com, the median sales prices for homes in Anchorage in the June to August, 2008, time frame varied by zip code. The median sales price in zip code 99567 was $432,000. In 99508, it was $300,000. And in 99577, it was $220,000.
Juneau is Alaska's state capital.It's in the southern part of the state, so the climate is more moderate.It's also a place where cruise ships stop, and it's located in a beautiful setting in an area that includes rain forests, mountains, and the Gastineau Channel.Juneau is named after the first prospector to strike gold in the area.You should find it possible to buy a home in Juneau in which you can wake up each morning to spectacularly beautiful views.
The median sales price of a home in Juneau in zip code 99801 was $252,500 in the June to August, 2008, time frame according to trulia.com.
Out in Bethel, Bethel is on the tundra, and there are some challenges to building above the permafrost.Also, all building materials must come in by barge or air, and they tend to be expensive.For the same reason, groceries, laundry detergent, and many other items are expensive in Bethel, too.
If you like to fish, this is a great place to be when they're running. Home prices tend to be fairly reasonable, too. In the 99560 zip code the median sales price of a house was $270,000 during the period from June to August, 2008, as reported by trulia.com. In zip code 99610, it was $208,000, and in 99872, it was $115,000.
In late September, 2007, valleymarket.com reported that the average price of pending sales in the Wasilla area was $248,404.These properties had been on the market an average of 60 days. We don't yet have updated pricing information for Wasilla, but since the governor of Alaska is a graduate of WasillaHigh School and chose to make her home in the area, it's probably safe to assume this is a good place to live.It's certainly a pretty area.If you're there, you might want to visit LakeLucille and HatcherPass both of which are quite beautiful.
Interesting Alaskan Real Estate Quirk
Valleymarket.com also noted an interesting purely Alaskan phenomenon.It seems there tends to be a small bump-up in the real estate market after the Permanent Fund Dividend checks come out.These checks are expected in October.If you're selling, this might be a good time to have your property on the market.If you're buying, you might pick another time.
Our Family's "Snapshots of Alaska"
In the last few weeks, our Alaska page has gotten a lot more visitors. (I wonder why? lol)
Our son, John, and his wife, Monica, live in Wasilla, Alaska. (Have you noticed that Wasilla is "all I saw" spelled backwards?) Their daughter, Tonya, and son, Hal Cody, graduated from Wasilla High School in 2002 and 2007. Monica is a native of Alaska. During John's military career, they've had three tours of duty there. On the first tour, they bought some land in Wasilla. On the second tour, they built a house. Literally, they (with the help of friends) built it themselves. Now, they plan to make it their permanent home.
Hal and I have made several trips up to Alaska. The first was when Tonya graduated from high school. She loved basketball and played point guard (like you-know-who).
The second was when John had some "home leave" from his first tour of Afghanistan. We went to Kodiak Island on this visit. Monica is chief financial officer for Alaska Aerospace and they had an open house at their launch facility on Kodiak. It's a beautiful place, and the launch facility is awesome.
The third was when Hal Cody graduated from high school. He played a mean game of football. (Do I sound like a grandparent yet?) The main speaker at his graduation was Governor Sarah Palin. She was a great speaker with a wonderful sense of comic timing and had the audience eating out of her hand. This is hardly news now, but I was impressed at the time.
We took trips to Denalli, Hatcher Pass, and visited Monica's relatives out in Bethel. We enjoyed wonderful meals in restaurants in Anchorage and Kodiak and in the homes of family and friends.
Alaska is a beautiful place, but the most amazing thing about Alaska is its people. It is populated thinly enough that people see each other, not as obstacles and competitors, but as potential friends and allies. They're very open and friendly. The climate is harsh enough, and their favorite passtimes dangerous enough, that most of them seem accustomed to facing life threatening situations, making decisions about how to handle them, and then executing those decisions with aplumb.
Much of that I've learned by observing Monica for 25 years. She hunts, fishes, kayaks, rides 4-wheelers and snow machines. She's never met a stranger. She juggles home and career. Nothing much gets her off balance. She's generous and kind. As a matter of fact, she pretty much epidimizes what's great about the people of Alaska, and I'm so glad our John met her.
On our trips to Alaska, we've taken a lot of pictures. Now, to the degree you'll allow, I'm going to bore you with them.
DO YOU HAVE some interesting pictures taken of scenes in Alaska? If so, please email them to us an an attachment to an email with your comments and giving us permission to use them. It would be greatly appreciated and might just highten interest in your state or area. our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
(That water looks cold. Do you know how EASY those things are to turn over? I love her, but is she crazy?)
Tonya helps fill and tie baloons for her high school graduation party
Aunt Terrie (from Virginia) prepares a palm tree for the tropical theme, but how to hang it?
Cousin Abby (from North Carolina) isn't sure how this is going to work.
Uncle Dave says, "Pass it up. I'll attach it here."
Cousins Ann & Alyssa (from Bethel) and Abby & Jess (from North Caroline) evaluate progress.
The grad has trouble keeping her younger cousins "in line" before lunch.
"Adopted" grandfather, Meryl, Dad, and Uppa (Dad's father) are amused.
When asked, Tonya, Hal Cody, Jess, & Abby line up to see if they still match their profiles.
Wasilla High School Class of 2002 during graduation ceremony
Tonya's Dad (John), Uncle Dave, & Uppa at graduation. Tonya requested that the uniforms be worn.
Tonya (2nd from left) and friends cut up after graduation.
Tonya's Mom & Dad (Monica & John) after graduation. (Aunt Terrie & Uncle Dave in back.)
Back home, Tonya with younger brother, Hal Cody. It's party time.
Tonya and the coaches
The graduate reading cards and opening presents
Ann & Alyssa have fun at Veterans Memorian near highway to Denali.
Glacier near Denali
Moose grazing between Anchorage and Wasilla
Residential LOTS in Anchorage with bay views
Plane on Lake Lucille in Wasilla. A hotel and homes are dotted around the lake. When one sleeps here, the commuter traffic one hears morning and evening is small planes like this taking off and landing.
Lake Lucille at about 10 PM in June
Salmon in river (from bridge looking down) on Kodiak. They're not just side by side. They also go several feet deep.
Hal Cody is the Wasilla grad in 2007. His Dad (John), Uppa, and Mom (Monica) are behind him. Older sister, Tonya, in front is safely back from Afghanistan. Granny is beside Tonya.
Katelyn (Monica's sister's daughter - on right) has arrived at the Bethel airport.
A family gathering at lunch time in Bethel
Ann is all grown up and has a daughter of her own, Tiffany, who is celebrating her 1st birthday today.
Auntie Rose (Monica's mother's sister) and family and friends at Tiffany's birthday party. In Bethel, it's referred to as a birthday feast, and indeed it is!
Katelyn and friends at her cousin Tiffany's birthday party.
John & Monica in a grocery store in Bethel
A "sale" on Tide in the same grocery store. (Didn't I tell you Bethel is expensive?!?)
A group of rental cabins in Bethel each has original art work on the outside. This is the bright blue cabin.
Art work on bright green cabin
Art work on dark blue cabin
Art on 2nd dark blue cabin
Original art on dark green cabin
Art on gold cabin
Art on grey cabin
Art on red cabin
A group of family members in Bethel cleaning up and decorating a deceased family member's grave.
Another family member's grave gets looked after in Bethel. This is traditionally done for Memorial Day.
The family group gathers, and the job is completed for this Memorial Day.
Back in Wasilla, John & Monica's deck has a lovely mountain view.
When it's time to go back to the "lower 48," Uppa is presented with a big box of frozen WILD GAME. Yes, fish, carabou, and moose are really the mainstays of Wasilla menus, and they're delishous!
As of this writing (9-29-2008), John is back in Afghanistan. He's shown here with some of his "business associates." Frankly, I'll be glad when he's back in Alaska!