The spring housing market started a little early this year.

A lot of buyers sitting on the fence jumped off and into action after the latest interest rate bump. There is a little more inventory in the Anchorage marketplace this year compared to last year with around 100 more single-family homes than at this point last year.

"We definitely have a move upmarket," Dwell Realty owner and broker Connie Yoshimura said. "We also have a move down market. Last year, we sold almost 500 ranch homes. We're seeing a lot of multi-generational families, blended families and a lot of downsizers. We're seeing a lot of movement in the marketplace."

That being said, the inventory is very low in a very aging housing stock. Around 75 percent of all single-family homes in the state of Alaska were built between 1970 and 1990. Some tips to remember when buying a home, if you're looking at buying a resale, make sure you check the condition of the home. Another tip is to get out and see the home and neighborhoods for yourself and not to rely solely on online photos.

"Many times the photos are deceiving," Yoshimura said. "They don't give you an accurate streetscape of the community you are thinking of moving into. I also recommend that you use the local MLS."

The minute a new listing is put into the system, any potential buyer is able to see it. If syndicated to online sites like Zillow or Trulia, it may take three to four days.

"I would encourage them to go to open houses," realtor Ruth Brandt said. "There are a lot of open houses that happen on Saturdays and Sundays. Just search the neighborhoods because you can't change the neighborhood you live in. You need to love the neighborhood. See what fits for you and your family as far as where you are at along with schools and shopping."

It's never a waste of time to put in the time to do a thorough search. New-construction open houses and existing-home open houses offer visuals relating to what you must have in a home and what you can compromise.

"With new construction, you can build from the ground up and get what you want," Brandt said. "With resales, there may be things you want to change here and there but you learn what you really love and don't really like."

Interest rates are expected to rise a couple more times before the end of the year. If you are interested in buying a home, the first thing one should do is contact a local lender first.

"A mortgage lender is going to help you find out what is best for you," Brandt said. "You want your mortgage payment to be one that isn't going to weigh you down. That way you know what you can afford before you start looking because you don't want to find a home you really want and then realize you can't afford it."

Local realtors say between now and June is a great time to buy because many people go on vacation in the summer.

"It really starts to slow down in July," Yoshimura said. "It picks up again around Labor Day and then it is strong until about November, but the rates could be higher then. Don't get me wrong, rates even at 5 percent are still very good."

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