FAIRBANKS - Homes sales in the Fairbanks area have fallen from the same time a year ago, but the Fairbanks Board of Realtors reported Tuesday that the local housing market is still strong and has largely missed a housing slump seen around the United States.
One-quarter fewer homes sold around Fairbanks during the first three months of 2008 than the same stretch last year. Overall home sales, however - measured by average price and number of homes sold - remain well above average springtime levels seen during the past five years, the board said.
There are more homes on the market than in recent years - a 74 percent increase in inventory from early 2006. Realtors board president Amy Krier said sellers are less likely to find multiple potential buyers "fighting" for a home when it hits the marketplace.
"We currently have a 10-month supply of homes on the market," Krier said. "(That's) actually pretty balanced."
The average reported selling price for one-bedroom homes rose by more than one-fifth from the first quarter of last year, while the average prices for two- and three-bedroom homes fell.
James Wiedle, an analyst with the Alaska Housing Finance Corp., said rising home utility costs have likely thrown a wrench into the affordability of Fairbanks' housing market, particularly for homeowners who live on a tight budget.
"When you consider that a lot of people are kind of on the cusp with home mortgage payments, it could push them into a situation where they can't afford to make their payment," Wiedle said. The housing corporation is managing an expanded weatherization-and-rebate program to make homes across the state more energy efficient and cheaper to maintain.
The housing corporation reported home foreclosure notices and actual foreclosures rose only slightly in the 17,000-home Fairbanks area last year - from 15 foreclosures to 22 during the first quarters of 2007 and 2008, respectively.
The average of 154 homes reported sold around Fairbanks from January through March went for $218,407, according to the board. That was a 2 percent drop from last year's first quarter average sale price but above the average of $204,334 for the first part of 2006.
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