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Real estate moves at healthy pace n all price ranges

Last year, homes sold in 151 days at averge sales price of $137,917

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Homeowner refinancing, which was the buzz of the Kenai Peninsula Borough real estate industry a year ago, mellowed in 2003, but low interest rates that had sparked the action continued, and area real estate agents reported a good, healthy market throughout the year.

"That (mortgage refinancing) bubble's kind of past," said Glenda Feeken, owner of Kenai-based ReMax of the Peninsula, but she added that interest rates remained good at the start of this year.

Rates for conventional and Federal Housing Administration financing were at 6 percent and the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. rural rate was 5.125.

"Rates are still really good, but I expect them to go up in the summer," Feeken said.

The real estate market is doing well in all price ranges, she said, with buyers coming from all walks of life.

Contributing to the strength of the market, according to the 15-year veteran of the peninsula real estate business, were the encouragement brought by the opening of the new Home Depot, the fact that jobs were holding steady at year's end and the abundance of first-time home buyers in the market.

Karen Carson of Choice Realty in Soldotna agreed.

"I believe the real estate market is very steady," Carson said.

"I made a comfortable living all year."

Asked what's hot in the real estate market, Carson pointed to single-family residences in the city of Soldotna and to a condominium project on the Kenai golf course, which will bring six to eight units priced in the $250,000 range.

"Of course, property on the river is always hot," Carson said.

She said the Mountain Rose Estates development at Kobuk and Fireweed avenues in Soldotna will put more than 70 homes on the market, featuring separate homes, duplexes and triplexes.

As a planned unit development, the Mountain Rose project incorporates a lot of open space in its village concept, Carson said.

She also said Hall Quality Builders has a new "right on" concept.

The company is prebuilding log cabin homes in Nikiski that are then placed on residential lots.

"It's going to be a great deal for the consumer who has come up here looking for a log cabin and has a particular piece of property in mind," she said.

Away from the west side of the Kenai Peninsula, the Cooper Landing area is drawing much attention, according to Feeken.

She said one nice log home on the river in Cooper Landing just brought a $425,000 sale price and one place she described as "Alaska casual," fetched $65,000.

It was a simple cabin with no running water and no electricity to the home. Included was an outhouse.

Asked how she thought a possible rerouting of the Sterling Highway away from Cooper Landing would affect real estate prices there, Feeken said it probably would drive prices up.

In the central Kenai Peninsula Borough, homes were on the market an average 151 days in 2003, she said, with an average list price of $145,034 and an average sales price of $137,917.

That compares to 2002 when homes were on the market 146 days and the average selling price was $138,927.

Surprisingly, Feeken said, a lot of buyers she worked with recently have been from Florida and California.

"Money is not the issue with them," she said.

"It's finding the property they want."

In addition to a steady residential real estate market, borough assessor Shane Horan said a good deal of commercial real estate activity took place in the past year, especially in the Soldotna area and in Seward and Homer.

New commercial properties in Soldotna include the Auto Wash Express behind Schuck's Auto Parts, the Denali Unlimited physical therapy facility being built on Binkley Street, the Lindhartsen chiropractic office and Steve Crane real estate office next to each other on the Kenai Spur Highway, Mountain Rose Estates, Froso's Restaurant and additions to the Park View Apartments.

Horan said more than $5.5 million in new commercial properties were added in Soldotna in 2003.

Homer added $8.5 million to $9 million in taxable commercial improvements in 2003, Horan said, including the South Peninsula Surgical Center, Alaska USA Credit Union, Print Works, Soul Sisters Bakery, Auto Car Wash on Ocean View Drive and an 8,000-square-foot private airplane hangar built at the airport.

Other 2003 improvements in Homer include phase 3 of the condominium development on the Homer Spit next to the Land's End Resort, an 84-unit full-service recreational-vehicle park near the chip storage yard on the Homer Spit, a fourplex residential rental building above Pioneer Avenue and the relocation of an old church onto the Spit, which will be used as an office-retail area.

New to Seward are the 32-unit Pacific Park Apartments, the Active Alaska Spa and Retreat and a $1 million upgrade of the Glacier View Apartments.

Also new in Seward are the 3 Bears card-lock fuel system, a new GCI office building, a mini-storage building and improvements to the sea wall and dock, a proposed hotel site.

In all, 2003 added $5.5 million in commercial assessed value in Seward, according to Horan.

Other areas of the peninsula seeing added or improved commercial properties include Kenai with the new Home Depot, remodeled Arby's Restaurant and refurbished Wells Fargo Bank building.

Also new in Kenai are an office building across from the post office, the new hotel being built near the airport on South Willow, a mini-storage office building with added storage units and the rebuilt Coffee Time coffee stand on the Spur Highway.

Overall, the peninsula had a 3 1/2 to 4 percent gain in real property values, said Horan, indicating healthy, continued growth.

Photo by Joseph Robertia Workers renovate the former Kmart building last summer before Home Depot moved in. Other business also renovated or enlarged last year.

Last year, homes sold in 151 days at average sales price of $137,917

Real estate moves at healthy pace in all price ranges

By PHIL HERMANEK

Peninsula Clarion

Homeowner refinancing, which was the buzz of the Kenai Peninsula Borough real estate industry a year ago, mellowed in 2003, but low interest rates that had sparked the action continued, and area real estate agents reported a good, healthy market throughout the year.

"That (mortgage refinancing) bubble's kind of past," said Glenda Feeken, owner of Kenai-based ReMax of the Peninsula, but she added that interest rates remained good at the start of this year.

Rates for conventional and Federal Housing Administration financing were at 6 percent and the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. rural rate was 5.125.

"Rates are still really good, but I expect them to go up in the summer," Feeken said.

The real estate market is doing well in all price ranges, she said, with buyers coming from all walks of life.

Contributing to the strength of the market, according to the 15-year veteran of the peninsula real estate business, were the encouragement brought by the opening of the new Home Depot, the fact that jobs were holding steady at year's end and the abundance of first-time home buyers in the market.

Karen Carson of Choice Realty in Soldotna agreed.

"I believe the real estate market is very steady," Carson said.

"I made a comfortable living all year."

Asked what's hot in the real estate market, Carson pointed to single-family residences in the city of Soldotna and to a condominium project on the Kenai golf course, which will bring six to eight units priced in the $250,000 range.

"Of course, property on the river is always hot," Carson said.

She said the Mountain Rose Estates development at Kobuk and Fireweed avenues in Soldotna will put more than 70 homes on the market, featuring separate homes, duplexes and triplexes.

As a planned unit development, the Mountain Rose project incorporates a lot of open space in its village concept, Carson said.

She also said Hall Quality Builders has a new "right on" concept.

The company is prebuilding log cabin homes in Nikiski that are then placed on residential lots.

"It's going to be a great deal for the consumer who has come up here looking for a log cabin and has a particular piece of property in mind," she said.

Away from the west side of the Kenai Peninsula, the Cooper Landing area is drawing much attention, according to Feeken.

She said one nice log home on the river in Cooper Landing just brought a $425,000 sale price and one place she described as "Alaska casual," fetched $65,000.

It was a simple cabin with no running water and no electricity to the home. Included was an outhouse.

Asked how she thought a possible rerouting of the Sterling Highway away from Cooper Landing would affect real estate prices there, Feeken said it probably would drive prices up.

In the central Kenai Peninsula Borough, homes were on the market an average 151 days in 2003, she said, with an average list price of $145,034 and an average sales price of $137,917.

That compares to 2002 when homes were on the market 146 days and the average selling price was $138,927.

Surprisingly, Feeken said, a lot of buyers she worked with recently have been from Florida and California.

"Money is not the issue with them," she said.

"It's finding the property they want."

In addition to a steady residential real estate market, borough assessor Shane Horan said a good deal of commercial real estate activity took place in the past year, especially in the Soldotna area and in Seward and Homer.

New commercial properties in Soldotna include the Auto Wash Express behind Schuck's Auto Parts, the Denali Unlimited physical therapy facility being built on Binkley Street, the Lindhartsen chiropractic office and Steve Crane real estate office next to each other on the Kenai Spur Highway, Mountain Rose Estates, Froso's Restaurant and additions to the Park View Apartments.

Horan said more than $5.5 million in new commercial properties were added in Soldotna in 2003.

Homer added $8.5 million to $9 million in taxable commercial improvements in 2003, Horan said, including the South Peninsula Surgical Center, Alaska USA Credit Union, Print Works, Soul Sisters Bakery, Auto Car Wash on Ocean View Drive and an 8,000-square-foot private airplane hangar built at the airport.

Other 2003 improvements in Homer include phase 3 of the condominium development on the Homer Spit next to the Land's End Resort, an 84-unit full-service recreational-vehicle park near the chip storage yard on the Homer Spit, a fourplex residential rental building above Pioneer Avenue and the relocation of an old church onto the Spit, which will be used as an office-retail area.

New to Seward are the 32-unit Pacific Park Apartments, the Active Alaska Spa and Retreat and a $1 million upgrade of the Glacier View Apartments.

Also new in Seward are the 3 Bears card-lock fuel system, a new GCI office building, a mini-storage building and improvements to the sea wall and dock, a proposed hotel site.

In all, 2003 added $5.5 million in commercial assessed value in Seward, according to Horan.

Other areas of the peninsula seeing added or improved commercial properties include Kenai with the new Home Depot, remodeled Arby's Restaurant and refurbished Wells Fargo Bank building.

Also new in Kenai are an office building across from the post office, the new hotel being built near the airport on South Willow, a mini-storage office building with added storage units and the rebuilt Coffee Time coffee stand on the Spur Highway.

Overall, the peninsula had a 3 1/2 to 4 percent gain in real property values, said Horan, indicating healthy, continued growth.



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