Alaska’s Rental Market Shows Signs of Slowing
ANCHORAGE, Monday, August 23, 1999—The Alaska rental market is showing signs
of slowing, according to a statewide survey conducted in March by the Alaska
Department of Labor for the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC).
From 1997 through 1998, high demand for rental units forced vacancy rates downward.
This year, however, the market is showing minor signs of slowing, with an increase in
vacancy rates and median adjusted rents unchanged. This loosening of the market appears
related to mortgage lending activity and regional economic growth, according to James
Wiedle, Research Analyst for AHFC.
"Most of the surveyed census areas that reported an increase in vacancies also reported
greater mortgage lending activity in the first quarter of 1999. However, vacancy increases
were greatest in areas with slow economic growth over the last year. With marginal
economic growth, one would expect these rental markets to respond more slowly in
filling vacancies created by households upgrading to homeownership."
The 1999 Annual Rental Market Survey asked landlords throughout the state about rental
cost, utility type, and vacancy status of 20,000 single-family and apartment units. Seven
of the 10 rental markets surveyed reported increases in vacancies. The highest rates of
vacancy were reported in Kenai, Wrangell-Petersburg, and Valdez-Cordova. Sitka and
Wrangell-Petersburg reported drops in their vacancy rates.
Statewide, average rents remained largely unchanged, with the average contract rent
increasing one dollar from $706 to $707. The largest increases were reported in
Wrangell-Petersburg ($13) and Valdez-Cordova ($42).
Renters continue to pay a premium for single-family homes. Residents in Anchorage,
Juneau, and Fairbanks pay $375, $314, and $179 respectively more on average for a
single-family home. The statewide average price for a single family rental was $841
compared to $697 for an apartment rental. (Numbers in this paragraph were corrected on