As you are shopping for a home, you will want to make decisions about what matters most to you and your family to narrow your search from up to a couple of thousand of homes available in Anchorage at any given time to a handful of homes that match your requirements. Keep in mind that buying a home is a large investment of your hard-earned dollars, it is ok to be decisive and choosey. It may be useful to start with a wish-list of items and then expand your preferences out on criteria that you are willing to compromise. Finetuning your desired preferences on the following core criteria will save you from, though fun, unnecessarily spending countless hours looking at houses.
Before seeking out a Realtor, it will help to have these primary criteria decided:
Residential or condominium
Area of town
Price (a minimum and a maximum, the narrower the better)
# of beds
# of baths
Square footage (a minimum and a maximum, the narrower the better)
Acreage (a minimum and a maximum, the narrower the better)
# of garage stalls
It is also important to consider how your family spends their time in the home and on the property. Do you enjoy your home as a sacred place for cozy family time or do you enjoying opening it up to large gatherings? Do you enjoy cooking elaborate meals, eating in a dining room, or hosting barbecues on the deck? Do you expect to accommodate frequent visitors for the weekend or longer term stays?
In addition to screening for the basic needs like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage, also consider other factors like the necessity for garage space, storage, fenced yard, RV/boat parking. Please note that in Alaska, some homes do not include a garage and homeowners manage by plugging in their vehicles to electrical outlets to keep the engines warm during the winter. If you choose to screen for a garage, you may miss out on properties that meet all of your other criteria.
As far as quality of life factors, it may to useful to consider other factors that are important to your family such as:
separate spaces for work and school work during times of hunkering down
large arctic entries for boots and coats
extra closet space to change out summer and winter gear
access to trails and parks
coming home to a city view
the convenience of living on city water and sewer
a south facing windows and deck for extra Vitamin D
a lot that requires little to no maintenance
availability of snowplow service
hot tub or sauna
air conditioning or at least windows that open
Old Versus New
Anchorage neighborhoods are well-mixed with neighborhoods of older construction and modern, new construction. In general, older construction has smaller bedrooms with larger living spaces and newer construction has larger bedrooms with smaller living spaces. Older construction lends the owner opportunities to add value to their homes as well as customization and upgrades.
Depending on what stage of life you may be in, consider how long you may live in the home and what phases of family life it will need to accommodate. Will it accommodate raising toddlers who need to play in the backyard, siblings who need bunkbeds, and teens who need their own space? Is there a space for visiting grandparents and maybe even live-in grandparents? What about workspaces? Is there enough room to accommodate you and your spouse to work from home as your job needs change? And finally, the home should be both cozy and spacious for the entire family during longer-stays at home whether from illness, cold streaks, smoke warnings, or hunker down mandates.
If, as far as you know, this may be your last home, sometimes referred to as your forever home, you may want to make sure that it not only accommodates your next phase or two or life, but your last phase of life. Ideally houses that can best accommodate seniors have a bedroom (ideally the master), a bathroom, and laundry room all on the same floor as the kitchen, living room, and front door. Homes with the least amount of stairs including those up to the front and back doors are best. A ranch home is ideal, but homes with bedrooms on the first floor can work as well. The main bedroom and bathroom should be spacious to allow bedside care and wheelchair access. Look for homes with attached garages, easy access to amenities, and tight-knit neighborhoods.