Alaska fending off national housing crisis so far

Posted: Monday, January 25, 2010

FAIRBANKS - A state analysis says the practice of using a mix of low-risk mortgages has helped Alaska fend off the housing troubles plaguing the rest of the nation.

The Alaska Department of Labor analyzed data from Mortgage Bankers Association to prepare its report, which was posted online this week.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that as of last fall, there were half as many homeowners in Alaska with subprime, adjustable-rate mortgages than in the country as a whole, when measured as a percentage of the population. Two percent of all homeowners in Alaska fit that category.

The state analysis also said Alaska benefited from its comparably high percentage of government-backed housing.

According to the Department of Labor, the percentage of home loans offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Housing Administration was twice as high as the national average.

"The makeup of Alaska's mortgages has had a lot to do with why Alaska has withstood the housing market collapse that continues to rumble through parts of the Lower 48," the department's researchers wrote.

Furthermore, only about three out of every 100 homes in Alaska had owners seriously behind on their mortgage payments - one-third the national average.

Another item that helps is that federal housing specialists work closely with the state and local housing agencies, said Eileen Cummings, president of the Greater Fairbanks Board of Realtors.

"These groups do a great job of screening the potential buyers and limiting the risk," she said.

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