Alaska Housing Market Update Report - Fall 2022
What’s the Alaska Housing Market Like
The state of Alaska’s housing market has followed a different path than the contiguous United States. Alaska’s economy has had a significant number of job losses over the past few years, much of it related to the oil industry.
Whereas the rest of the US has been on an economic upsurge for the past decade, Alaska has struggled to recover from the last real estate market crash over a decade ago.
Alaska’s median sales price as of Sept 2022 was $348,100. If we look back at Sept 2019’s median price of $290,600, we can see the increase in median price has only gone up19.8% in three years, which is a yearly increase rate of 6.6%. The rate of price increases for the last three years is about ½ the rate of price increases nationwide and ¼ to ⅓ of what many metro areas have experienced in price growth.
Some of Alaska's real estate market numbers also reflect the impact of the pandemic and recent mortgage rate hikes. Sales volume has dropped considerably year over year. In Sept 2022, 711 homes and condos changed hands in the state of Alaska, a 23% decrease from Sept 2021, when 925 homes and condos were sold.
The number of sales over the last three years peaked at 965 in July 2021; compared to Sept 2022’s numbers, sales in Alaska are down 26.3% in the number of sales from the peak of the last three years. Relatively speaking, this is a significant drop in sales which is a reflection of the impact of the pandemic, rising interest rates, and Alaska’s lagging economy.
Looking back at the median home price over the last three years, prices peaked in June 2022 at $371,700. It is clear that the recent steep rise in mortgage rates has curved sales activity and shrunk affordability, and the result has been a drop in home prices and sales.
How Does The Alaska Housing Market Compare to the National Housing Market?
Despite the physical detachment from the rest of the nation, the Alaska housing market is facing a similar environment to many other states. The similarities aren’t many though. Much of Alaska has experienced below-national-average appreciation in prices, and sales numbers are rather small, relatively speaking.
When we compare national stats to the state of Alaska, we find that for September 2022, year-over-year prices in Alaska are up 3.9% compared to the national average of 7.6%. Home sales dropped 23% in Alaska compared to 23% nationwide. So the sales numbers are quite similar and prices went up at half the pace of the rest of the US.
Real Estate market status in the most populous cities in Alaska
Finding a hot market in Alaska is going to be a challenge for a variety of reasons. First, the overall number of sales over a widely spread out state will not yield a statistically significant number of regional sales to compare historically and get an actual trend. Secondly, unlike in the contiguous US, the reporting is rather unreliable as many sales are not registered through the usual MLS channels.
What we will do is go cover market stats in the largest population areas and see what the trend is there locally. Here are the largest population areas in Alaska:
Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska, known to Alaskans as the gateway to Alaska adventure. The city's population is approximately 290,000, which is a considerable size taking into account that we are talking about a state that is practically covered in snow and ice most of the time. The city has all the modern amenities, such as arts and culture, vast parks and trails, and some unique features. The city does a great job of combining wild Alaskan beauty with urban comforts.
The real estate market in Anchorage is very competitive in terms of demand at this time, which indicates a seller’s market. The median home price in Anchorage in Sept 2022 was $354,000, which was up just 1% from Sept 2021.
In Sept of 2022, there were 395 homes sold in Anchorage, a 22% decrease in sales from the same period in 2021. Looking back at the last 3 years, sales peaked in July 2021 at 576 sales.
The median days on the market is 17, which indicates a balanced market. Compared to Sept 2021, the median days on the market have gone up by 31%.
Unlike many areas of the state and the nation where we see median prices dropping, and significant decreases in sales, the Anchorage market is much more tempered. The mild increase in price from 2021 is at least a sign that the market still has some life in it.
Juneau is the capital of the state of Alaska and the 2nd most populous city, with around 32,000 residents. The city benefits generously from the tourist trade. In fact, tourism is the 2nd largest employer after the government. Winters in Juneau are mild and wonderful summers, perfect for outdoor activities, which are abundant in Juneau.
The median home price in Juneau for Sept 2022 was $438,000. Juneau had a YOY median price increase of 27.3% from Sept 2021.
The average days on the market is 79, and it’s up by 2 days compared to last year. As of Sept 2022, there were 23 homes for sale; in Oct of 2022, only 15 homes were available in Juneau.
Fairbanks is the 3rd most populous city in Alaska and the coldest in the interior region of the state. Fairbanks is a great place to live for those who love cold weather. It is not uncommon for the weather to reach -40 degrees in the winter, which is bitterly cold. One unique feature about Fairbanks is that during the summer solstice, you can enjoy the sunshine from 3 AM to midnight.
Fairbanks is currently a balanced Real Estate market, not favoring either sellers or buyers particularly. The median price of a home in Sept 2022 was $311,250, up 13.6% from Sept of 2021. Over the last 3 years, Sept 2022’s median price was the peak of the market.
In Sept 2022, 16 homes were sold in Fairbanks, which is an increase of 45% from Sept of 2021. Looking back three years, the peak in the number of sales was Dec 2020, with 21 home sales for the month.
Median days on the market in Sept 2022 were 57, which is up by 49 days from Sept 2021. Due to the small market size in Fairbanks, there are significant fluctuations in the number of sales and days on the market from month to month.
What we can see that is quite positive about Fairbanks is that prices are up from last year, as well as the number of home sales.
Badger is a census-designated place with a population of about 19,000 residents. According to the 2010 census, a considerable portion of the population of Badger residents are Soldiers and family members of military personnel stationed in Fort Wainwright, which is within the border of Badger.
Badger is still considered a balanced market. The median price of a home in Sept 2022 was $359,950, up 24.1% from Sept 2021. The peak of housing prices in the last three years happens to be Oct 2022, when the median price reached $400,000.
There were 16 homes sold in Badger in the month of Sept 2022, a 128.6% increase from Sept 2021. The peak in the number of sales was in Oct 2019, when 20 homes were sold for the month.
The median days on the market in Sept 2022 was 19 days, a one-day increase from Sept 2021.
Knik-Fairview is also a census-designated place in Alaska. The population of Knik-Fairview is around 19,000 residents.
The real estate market in Knik-Fairview is currently a somewhat competitive market. The median price of a home in Sept 2022 was $355,000, up 3% from Sept 2021.
49 homes sold in Sept 2022, down 9.3% from Sept 2021. Looking back over the past 3 years, sales peaked at 67 in June 2022.
The median days on the market have increased from 7 days in Sept 2021 to 34 days in Sept 2022, up by 27 days.
Higher Mortgage Rates Could Slow Price Growth in Alaska
How will interest rates affect the housing Alaska housing market? The state of Alaska’s housing market is hard to predict at this time. There is wide speculation that Anchorage may have a significant price correction, but the fundamentals don’t support the theory so far.
The state of Alaska is barely catching up to the rest of the nation in the economic sense. There is no doubt that the high inflation and high-interest rates will put a damper on the state’s recovery.
As of early November 2022, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is above 7.25% on average. The Feds just announced yet another .75% increase to the Federal Funds rate, which means a higher cost of borrowing in many areas. Although not necessarily tied to mortgage rates, an increase in rates in business loans, credit cards, etc. puts additional pressure on budgets, ultimately impacting how much house someone can afford.
Future speculation on Alaska home prices is a bit risky, but if things keep going the way they have gone so far, Alaska will probably not have a dramatic home price correction unless mortgage rates go significantly higher.
Key Market Stats for the Alaska Housing Market:
As of the latest compiled housing report with data through Sept 2022.
Median price: $348,100 - up 3.9% from 2021
Existing home sales: 711 - down 23% from 2021
Median days on the market: 22, up 57% from 2021
Historic price changes & affordability
The Alaska housing market has seen moderate appreciation for years. Over the last 3 years, homeowners saw their homes appreciate by 19.8% in 36 months, or 6.6% yearly, which is a moderate rate of appreciation. At the current median home price of $348,100 and the median household income of approximately $77,000 a year, the value of housing in Alaska is much better than in many areas of the nation.
The steep rise in mortgage rates has shrunk affordability across the nation. Fortunately, the Alaska average wages are slightly higher than the national average, which will help soften price correction.
- The housing market has started shifting nationwide. Alaska has not seen break-neck appreciation; therefore, it is likely that prices will hold relatively steady with only modest declines, although year-to-date home value numbers seem concerning.
- Real Estate markets are highly local, and even within the same state, there will be areas that are projected to be hit hard by the market shift, and others will fare better.
- Timing the market for buying or selling is a big gamble. If it makes sense for you to buy, go ahead and buy a home. For sellers, if you have to sell in the next 12-24 months, you may want to consider doing it sooner than later, especially if you are in an area that may be considered overvalued and has a high potential for house prices to drop.