For 61° North: For millennials in Alaska, home ownership dreams deferred

After months skimming listings in search of her first home, Elizabeth Knapp, a 26-year-old elementary music teacher in Anchorage, stumbled on her house-hunting holy grail one night in February after work.

It appeared in an agent’s email: three bedrooms, two bathrooms, garage, all updated, located in the East Anchorage neighborhood near her parents. Most crucial and hard-to-find was the asking price: $285,000

She called her agent right away and got set up to make an offer the next morning. Six other offers were already waiting. Knapp and her agent decided to go above asking. To increase the chances the sellers would pick her, Knapp wrote a personal letter.

“I told them that I grew up in the neighborhood and am still a frequent visitor,” she said.

She said she liked the nearby dog park and the trails, and that her parents lived nearby.

And she did all that before she even set foot in the house.

Such is the housing market in Anchorage and many other parts of Alaska for millennials — people in their 20s and early 30s — who are looking to get into their first home at an affordable price. Knapp’s offer, the first she’d ever made, was accepted. Her story, agents say, is not typical.

“We are in a sellers’ market. We’re seeing three and four offers,” said Ava Anderson, a realtor with Jack White in Anchorage, speaking about first homes under $300,000 like Knapp’s. “The last one I had had, like, nine offers.”

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