Low inventory, steady demand tighten Chugiak-Eagle River housing market

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - 08:10
  • Workers prepare for spring construction at an Eagle River housing development. (Star photo by Kirsten Swann)
  • A vacant home in Eagle River. (Star photo by Kirsten Swann)
  • Workers prepare for spring construction at an Eagle River housing development. (Star photo by Kirsten Swann)

Despite rising statewide unemployment and widespread economic fears, the Chugiak-Eagle River housing market is going strong, marked by steady demand and low inventory.

“I’m going to say it’s historically low,” said Barbara Crittenden, a longtime local realtor and resident. “Because it’s low, it’s going to tighten up the market.”

As of March 6, there were 120 single-family homes on the market locally – 24 in Chugiak and 96 in Eagle River, Crittenden said. The scant inventory – scattered across all price points — can mean good news for sellers. In Chugiak-Eagle River, it’s currently not uncommon for sellers to receive multiple offers in quick succession, Crittenden said.

“When you see multiple offers on properties, that tells you right away – there are a lot of buyers out there looking for homes,” she said.

Chugiak-Eagle River has seen major growth since Crittenden’s family first moved here nearly 40 years ago, she said. Back then, there were only a few thousand phone lines in the entire community. These days, there’s a six-lane highway and a Wal-Mart and housing developments blooming along the sides of Eagle River Valley. The population’s still expanding.

Competitively priced homes are now often snapped up within days, said Crittenden, who’s worked for Jack White Real Estate for 28 years.

Within the Municipality of Anchorage during the fourth quarter of 2016, new single-family homes went for an average of $634,000, while existing construction averaged around $373,000 per home, higher than any other area in the state, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Military and younger homebuyers seem to prefer new construction, Crittenden said, and the Chugiak-Eagle River market reflects that. While there is some renovation taking place in older neighborhoods around the community, most homes on the market were built fairly recently – and some have yet to be built at all.

Alfred Romaszewski, a local realtor and owner of Re/Max of Eagle River, he’s seen area home prices seem to drop slightly recently. Lower-priced properties are moving faster. Otherwise, he said, the market is steady.

“It’s still going halfway decent,” Romaszewski said.

Compared with Alaska’s last big recession, he said, the current economic downturn has had a negligible impact on the Chugiak-Eagle River housing market. Homes are selling and new construction is moving forward.

But the tight market can be a double-edged sword. It can signal opportunity for sellers, Crittenden said. For buyers, it can be frustrating: Chugiak-Eagle River homes, as quickly as they sell, are priced out of reach of many shoppers.

“I think sometimes our housing market is pretty shocking to buyers,” she said.

Contact reporter Kirsten Swann at [email protected]

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