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Thread: Anchorage Real Estate

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    Default Anchorage Real Estate

    Howdy. New in town: military, looking to buy property.

    Anyone familiar with Anchorage real estate over the last few years who can recommend what areas to consider and which to avoid, in terms of rising/falling value? I'm a single dude, so I'm not interested in Eagle River or any suburban new construction with long commutes.

    What I would like is something in the 200-400k range, with a strong preference for multiple-family housing (i.e., a duplex, triplex or four-plex) with high demand for the other rental units. A nice, central neighborhood would be awesome, but I will settle for slightly less central and slightly more run-down if I can find a multi-family where the other 2-3 units (I would be living in one unit) will have high rental demand.

    Just looking for sound real estate advice and an outline of the neighborhoods, but long rants on how I should move to Los Angeles and become a slumlord are more than welcome, for my own entertainment!

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    There is a crime map that is really good in showing just where in Anchorage there are some parts of town that you'd want to be careful of before investing. If someone doesn't post it up here soon I can find a link to it somewhere.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    If you're looking for multi-family units with high demand, I wouldn't dismiss Eagle River from the start. I own a multi-family building in Eagle River and so does my brother, and we never have to advertise a vacancy for long before it is filled. Incidentally, it is often filled with single military members who make ideal tenants (predictable income, take good care of the places, etc.). My parents have been involved in rental properties in Eagle River and Anchorage for 40 years and in watching their journey, there are certainly areas of town that are better from the property owner standpoint than others. Eagle River is a cakewalk (with one or two notable exceptions) - generally good tenants, generally very high demand, etc. Anchorage can be a mixed bag, and in the areas with more affordable multi-family units and older buildings, you might be looking at periodic headaches - far higher turnover rate, higher rate of late/missing rent checks, etc. Of course there are exceptions to every trend, but just pointing out that Eagle River isn't such a bad option for someone looking at a multi-family setup. A friend of mine just built a brand-new 4 unit condo building in Eagle River and is able to live in the 4th unit for free based on the rents collected from the other three. Not a bad gig if you can swing it.

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    here is the crime map link: http://crimemap.muni.org/
    When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tripilot View Post
    rising/falling value? I'm a single dude, so I'm not interested in Eagle River or any suburban new construction with long commutes.
    Wife and I just bought a house. Prices are gaining an average of 4.5 percent per year. We live in Eagle River and I work right next door to base. 15 minute drive to that base exit, and there are 2 closer which would be in the 8-12 minute range. Rush hour adds an extra 5-10 minutes. Wasilla and Palmer are 45 minutes away.

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    Thanks for the replies, solid info all around.

    Brian M., your family sounds a lot like mine, just replace "Alaska" with "Texas," where I grew up. Since you have a lot of the firsthand knowledge, are there any areas in Anchorage you specifically recommend or dis-recommend? I guess I'm leaning away from Eagle River partly for selfish reasons: might be a good growth area, but with the military I've been living in suburban areas for a long time and I'm looking to live in a city for a few years. I like the idea of walking/biking to parks, coffee shops, and bars, all from the same front door. If I can get that AND a reasonably reliable multi-family, that would be the ideal setup.

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    Have you tried "street view" in google maps? Anchorage and surrounding areas were photographed in 3d a number of years ago.
    https://www.google.com/maps/views/ex...-149.90027&z=7
    It might help if you look around a little.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tripilot View Post
    Thanks for the replies, solid info all around.

    Brian M., your family sounds a lot like mine, just replace "Alaska" with "Texas," where I grew up. Since you have a lot of the firsthand knowledge, are there any areas in Anchorage you specifically recommend or dis-recommend? I guess I'm leaning away from Eagle River partly for selfish reasons: might be a good growth area, but with the military I've been living in suburban areas for a long time and I'm looking to live in a city for a few years. I like the idea of walking/biking to parks, coffee shops, and bars, all from the same front door. If I can get that AND a reasonably reliable multi-family, that would be the ideal setup.
    I think trying to find what you're looking for in your price range and a nice neighborhood is going to be really tough in Anchorage. I think you'll find most of the multi family dwellings in Anchorage tend to be located in what personally are areas I wouldn't want to live in i.e. Fairview, Mountainview, Muldoon. And then you have to factor in older construction homes can have issues and you could end up spending most of your time remodeling and repairing. Eagle River probably is your best bet for multi family dwellings in a decent neighborhood.

    Personally if I was a single guy and probably only here 2-4 years and wanting to be able to walk/bike to restaraunts and parks I'd look for an apartment or condo downtown. I don't think the benefits of a rental property would pencil out in 2-4 years vs. the risks of dealing with repairs and tenants.

    Another thought on Anchorage real estate after having spent the last 4 years looking for a house in Anchortown is that quality properties are a small percentage of the market and sell quickly in both and up and down market so your best bet is to have your financing lined up and spend the time to find a quality unit and grab it when it becomes available. Even in this up market I've seen quite a few properties with issues be on the market for a long time. Quality property really doesn't cost much more than average properties, but the benefits are huge when it comes to resale.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

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    These are all really thought-provoking inputs, appreciate the conversation. I actually agree with the criticisms of my plan, but I think that my experience with managing properties, and with remodeling and repairs, gives me the slight edge I'll need to stay in the black. Then I build equity instead of trashing my income on rent.

    I've heard Fairview mentioned a couple times. What, exactly, is (are) the problem(s) with this neighborhood? From a real estate perspective, it seems like a prime location. It has proximity to downtown, a high-demand market, and availability of multi-family units. Do people just not like it because it's older and run-down? Generally, run-down areas with good locations are the first to develop and increase in value.

    What about the Sand Lake area? It's not close to downtown but it is close to Kincaid and houses seem nicer. Also plenty of properties available.

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    Another neighborhood I haven't heard much about: Turnagain?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tripilot View Post
    Generally, run-down areas with good locations are the first to develop and increase in value.
    Back in the 70's a friend taught me much about buying/improving/renting/selling multi family units. I followed his advice and did quite alright. He had an inimical way to convey the exact point you're saying here:

    You know that really bad run down house down the street? Looks like its falling apart? That's the house that will make you the most money, if you can make manage the property's downsides well and long enough to make said money. And if the market doesn't get you.

    It sounds like you and my friend would have gotten along, and that you're familiar with these sorts of downsides; same issues here.

    One possibly unique problem here might be that our Anchorage police department did start sending invoices to places that receive "too many police calls" and you'll likely find some of these properties for sale. Do know that the owner of record is liable to pay these bills in Anchorage. Also you'll have snow/ice/freeze/flood issues here like we all do.

    C'mon up and get your feet wet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    It sounds like you and my friend would have gotten along, and that you're familiar with these sorts of downsides; same issues here.
    Absolutely, and I completely agree with your friend's philosophy. My parents, brother and I have made decent money in exactly this way.

    Great tip about the police, though. I will definitely check the police records before finalizing any offers.

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    Watch ktuu.com and adn.com and you might get a better feel for the city. Fairview? to many drunks. Sand Lake? lived there in the 70's for 10 yrs, moved when they extended the runway to accommodate the bigger jets.
    When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tripilot View Post
    I've heard Fairview mentioned a couple times. What, exactly, is (are) the problem(s) with this neighborhood? From a real estate perspective, it seems like a prime location. It has proximity to downtown, a high-demand market, and availability of multi-family units. Do people just not like it because it's older and run-down? Generally, run-down areas with good locations are the first to develop and increase in value.
    Fairview is older with smaller homes, and dense multi-family. Smaller units keep the cost down for renters and thus draw in low income and no income people. Petty crime, street crime, high foot traffic, etc. all keep the APD hopping. You have the "ghetto" Carrs store there where they have the mouth wash locked up and stock no cooking "wines".

    Many years ago the city and state spent millions widening a through street and part of that project was to close off a few smaller through streets to alter the flow of traffic. During three years of construction the local bad apples didn't like all the attention and could not do their business, so they moved further east into the Airport Heights, Penland Park, and Muldoon. Now they have moved back as their brand of business suffered in other parts of town.

    I have known two people that used to own multi family units in Fairview. Years of daily repairs and call outs for fixing stuff that was fixed last week. Both have moved on, but did make money in the resale; however, the hassle was not worth it over the decades. One guy went to the trouble of creating an LLC and transferring all the property ownership to that and updated all of his leases to give him the ability to boot people under the tenant laws. Many times he had to sit down and read the lease to the rentors since they had less than a 6 grade education. BTW how is your Hmong? It got to the point with the cops that he started doing back ground checks and stopped renting to sex offenders, drug dealers, and whores. Eventually he sold all the properties (4?) to finance a 6 to 8 unit being built in Jewel Lake. He has a duplex in Spenard still that he rents only to grad students at UofA. 20 years of non stop occupancy with no issues. He has never had to advertise as the student system keeps it turning over every two to three years.

    One of the things that creates the issues in Fairview, and will continue to keep it supressed, is the lack of extremely low rent housing in Anchorage. Developers have bought and closed down a few ancient trailer parks forcing people that could not afford more than a couple hundred a month in rent out into areas of town like Fairview.

    However, areas like Fairview are ripe for economic development due to the fact that the remaining open land in Anchorage is spruce swamp and not suitable for easy construction. But then the lack of affordable housing for the no income sector keeps Fairview depressed.

    In Anchorage only the poor and downtrodden walk to where they need to go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tripilot View Post
    Another neighborhood I haven't heard much about: Turnagain?
    So, you want to live next to the Big Dogs of Alaska politics?

    All joking aside there are some very nice multi family properties south of Northern Lights/Bensen. Thousands of zero lot line duplexes all lined up, and then older 3 and 6 plex units nearby. Much more "up scale" than other parts of town. Mid town is where Anchorage really lives, not down town. Turnagain backs to Spenard to the south and east. Spenard is quirky. Ancient houses (log cabins even) from the 1930's and modern condos right next to each other. Drug dealers and pimps down the street from internationally respected artists. Even a trailer park or two hidden in old trees.

    Bootlegger Cove is another area between down town and Turnagain that has a large mix of rental property and movers and shakers of Alaska business.

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    Dude, AK Ray, your write-ups describing the neighborhoods are EXACTLY what I was hoping someone would give me. Thanks a lot for the info.

    Bootlegger Cove and north Midtown are sort of my ideal neighborhoods right now, only (not surprisingly) those are the two places in which I don't see a lot of property moving. I'll look to Turnagain and Spenard after that, and in a distant fourth I'll consider risking the evident hassle of Fairview. At least now I'll understand what I'm getting into.

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    There are parts of Muldoon I would look into before Fairview... but that's me. Yes they both have their problems.

    There are parts of Muldoon that back up to that big greenbelt and the are is a lot nicer and is right next to the edge of the beginning wild woods that extend clear up the mountain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    There are parts of Muldoon I would look into before Fairview... but that's me. Yes they both have their problems.

    There are parts of Muldoon that back up to that big greenbelt and the are is a lot nicer and is right next to the edge of the beginning wild woods that extend clear up the mountain.
    Agreed, but I would get as close to the Muldoon-Tudor curve as possible - and as far away from the Glenn.

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    I just don't think the Anchorage real estate market can be compared to the lower 48 because we are our unique little market with it's unique forces. One of those major forces is low vacancies in both real estate to purchase and to rent which IMHO drives the prices for mediocre to less than ideal properties much higher than they would otherwise be. And we are a relatively small market so you're never going to see a huge amount of inventory available. I don't see there being any economic forces that would be significantly driving up the value of multifamily dwellings in Anchorage and if anything forces that would lead me to believe that they would be stagnant at best. We've had a large influx of immigrants from Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and Africa and that has been due to the government sending them hear as refugees. I don't see us having a thriving economic engine to make those people upwardly mobile.

    I've looked at a lot of houses in Anchorage in the past 4 years and honestly what I found was that there were no deals to be had in fixer uppers and foreclosures when the costs of repairs and upgrades were factored in. Even doing all the upgrades and repairs myself I figured I'd just break even on the costs of the work. So I came to the realiation why would I want to spend 3-5 years of my precious free time fixing up a house when I was generally looking at just breaking even and would end up with a house that had a funky floor plan?

    Good luck on your search, the more time you spend educating yourself on the market the better you'll be positioned to get the right property for you. But it takes alot more than just having an idea of what a reasonable $/sq ft a property should be worth. I've seen properties that you would think would be over priced for their sq footage have two offers the day after it was listed and others that seemed like a good deal be on the market for over a year.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    and as far away from the Glenn.
    It does help to be as far down range from Boundary as possible.

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