Alaska’s pricey housing market still limiting options for home buyers

Housing is not easy to come by for many in Alaska, here are some tips on ways to make it easier.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 7:29 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Housing is not easy to come by for many in Alaska, a reality that was brought up last week by the state House Finance Committee in Juneau.

“Housing for the average Alaskan is unattainable, not only for purchase but for construction due to the cost of everything increasing,” Executive Director of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation Executive Director Bryan Butcher said Thursday.

Property values have risen 25% since 2013, according to Anchorage Economic Development Corporation CEO and President Bill Popp.

This has been attributed to the rise in the cost of building materials, as well as the limited space for expansion, according to Real Estate Brokers of Alaska agent Nick Bruckner.

“We’re landlocked between the Chugach Mountains and government-held land with (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson) and the Cook Inlet, and so there’s a really limited amount of land and real estate available, which increases the value of the land,” Bruckner said.

While this makes it difficult for first-time buyers to purchase property, there are some options that can make it easier, such as purchasing a multi-family building and renting out the other rooms.

There are also loans available that have low down payment percentages, such as loans through the Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Affairs loans, which do not require a down payment, and the Housing and Urban Development Section 184 loan, which provides loans with down payments as low as 2.25%.

“With a VA loan or the FHA loan program — which is 3.5% down — you can buy a four-plex for about the same amount of money as you can buy, like a decent house in Anchorage, and then use the rents to basically cover your housing expense, and then a few years down the road, purchase a home,” Bruckner said.

“HUD 184, FHA, and VA are the lowest down payment programs. They’re federally subsidized, and they can help make it more affordable for people to get their first property.”

Bruckner also said that those looking to purchase a home should not be turned away from speaking with a realtor if they’re trying to save money, as it is the home sellers who are responsible for paying for real estate agents.