Farewell to Diane’s…

Tomorrow is the last day that Diane’s Restaurant in the Atwood building will be open. Check out the Alaska Dispatch story if you missed it: Goodbye to a gathering place: Dianne’s Restaurant closing as owners shift to catering. I’ve probably frequented Diane’s far more than is healthy. At first it was a matter of convenience (a restaurant just … Continue reading Farewell to Diane’s…

Advertisements

A Day in the Life – 4 Months Old

I am hoping to recap a typical day each month of Cullen’s life to show how our schedule changes each month. Cullen just turned 4 months old yesterday, so here’s a look at our day starting with last night (Tuesday) and through the end of today (Wednesday). 6:45 p.m. (Tuesday) Cullen goes down for the night. He usually goes to bed 12 hours after he wakes up which is usually between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. …

Interest Rates And Real Estate Forecasts Affecting Anchorage Buyers

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer in Anchorage, Alaska or a step-up buyer, real estate trends may be of particular concern. Step-up buyers may worry they may be trading their lower interest rates of 3 or 4 percent for higher rates in the New Year if they make a move. The New Year will bring changes for homebuyers. The key is to have an experienced Realtor who knows the Anchorage real estate market so you can benefit from the positive real estate trends and be sheltered from any negative trends. Of course, many real estate predictions are simply predictions.     

•    Looking at interest rates rising

According to a recent article by The Washington Post, mortgage rates are headed to 5 percent. From a historical perspective, 5 percent is still low compared to the double-digit interest rates people dealt with in the 1980s. However, for someone who currently has a 3 percent interest rate, the two percent hike could give them less purchasing power when looking at Anchorage homes. The trickle down effect is that buyers have to be savvier about their listing prices and other factors.

 

•    Hearing from the experts

The Post article cites the Mortgage Bankers Association which says the average interest rates on 30-year, fixed rate mortgages may rise to 5.1 percent by the year. That’s a full percentage point higher than where it was in recent months. Other experts point out that the interest rates may stay lower for a longer period of time if the global economic and political issues take a negative turn. In a nutshell, though, it’s the Fed’s “quantitative easing” program which pumps money into the economy that kept interest rates low. Now that the Fed has said the program is ending, everyone is keeping a close eye on mortgage rates.

•    Budgeting for higher rates

As a homeowner, you can get pre-approved for a certain loan amount. The amount a lender gives you is based on your debt-to-income ratio. You can also put money down toward the home purchase. Some good loan terms include a 15-year fixed rate loan or a 30-year fixed rate loan as well as many other mortgage products. Most experts recommend avoiding adjustable rate mortgages, especially when interest rates are on the rise. According to The Post, one study showed when interest rates went down significantly, borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages saved an average of $150 a month. However, when rates go up, borrowers may be faced with much higher mortgage payments than expected.

While interest rates are still at historic lows, it’s a terrific time to make a move. At Wolf Real Estate, we can help you find your forever dream home or assist you with the sale of an Anchorage home. For more information, please contact us at 248-9653 or visit us at www. anchoragehomesearch.com.

Julia O’Malley: Pick a thing, do the thing

I’m a longtime fan of Julia O’Malley. In fact, I’ve already rhapsodized about her writing, here: “Anchorage Never Stops Being Interesting.” But I’d never actually met her in person until a few weeks ago when she graciously accepted my invitation for coffee and agreed to be interviewed for my TEDx project. I was nervous, of course. A “just … Continue reading Julia O’Malley: Pick a thing, do the thing

Yaktraks:Run Review

If you know me, you know I’ll run in pretty much any weather condition. Rain, heat, sleet, snow. . . .none of these can stop my addiction to running. Of course these conditions aren’t ideal, but with some solid gear, it definitely makes the run more enjoyable. Now that we have snow (and ice), I’ve had a chance to try out the Yaktrax:Run traction devices you can strap to your shoes for those winter runs. …

Relocating to Anchorage: How to Eliminate the Stress of Moving

Whether you are planning to retire or starting a new business venture in Anchorage, moving is still one of the most stressful life events. For couples who can’t agree on how much to spend on a new home, which neighborhood and what kind of home features, the prospect of relocating to Anchorage is even more daunting. Fortunately, your Anchorage Realtor can work as a mediator for you and your spouse as well as for the two of you and the seller. According to a story by The Boston Globe, buying a home often taxes a relationship. If you and your spouse are opposites, the problem is even more pronounced. At the same time, use the process of buying a home in Anchorage as an opportunity to negotiate, work as a team and learn the art of compromise.          

Gaining something new

When you move, you experience loss because you feel like you are giving up old friends, memories and a part of yourself. To overcome the sense of loss, focus on making new friends and surrounding yourself with photographs and tokens of the past. Bring your favorite pieces of art, antiques and pieces of furniture, but leave behind the furniture and “stuff” that doesn’t hold a lot of sentimental meaning.

Avoiding major fixer uppers

Although some couples say they strengthen their relationship by working together on an Anchorage foreclosure or fixer upper, some studies show renovations causes marital stress. If you are already under stress because of relocating to Anchorage, don’t put further stress on yourself by tackling a big project. Instead, consider buying a move-in ready home or new construction house.

Giving and taking

While your Realtor will negotiate on your behalf with the seller, you need to negotiate with your spouse. Talk about your list of priorities until you can agree on items that matter to both of you. According to the Boston Globe, a negotiation is successful when each party gets something they want but realizes they won’t get everything.

One way to compromise is to agree to what how much you are willing to spend on a home now and how much you will spend on renovations and updates in the future. If your spouse insists on a home with hardwood floors, you could commit to a specific timeline and budget for having the floors installed. Ask your Realtor to negotiate for a flooring allowance so you can reduce your out-of-pocket costs for updating.

At Wolf Real Estate, we help buyers relocating to Anchorage, Alaska as well as people moving from a starter home to a step-up house in the same area. For more tips on buying a home together with a person who has different tastes and priorities, please contact us at 248-9653 or visit us at http://www.anchoragehomesearch.com.

Photos by DMD Real Estate Photography

Stryker Rejuvenate/ABG II Hip Implant Settlement

Settlement was reached today in the Stryker Rejuvenate/ABG II hip implant litigation. Claimants eligible to participate in the settlement are those who have had surgery to replace their Stryker hip implant device, in a procedure called a revision, prior to November 3, 2014. Claimants who have not yet had revision surgery to remove their device because they were deemed to be too medically infirm for the surgery are also eligible.

Those wishing to participate in the settlement are required to register by December 14, 2014. No extensions of this deadline are provided for in the settlement agreement. Thus, it is imperative that claimants seeking compensation for their injuries register by this deadline.

The attorneys at the Alaska Personal Injury Law Group are participating in the litigation, and are familiar with the elements of the settlement. Claimants needing assistance in the registration process may obtain the necessary advice by calling 907.276-1700 or 800.478.1900.

Tour Alaska’s Top 4 Most Beautiful Ice Caves

Few sites on the planet can rival the wonder of glacier-fed ice caves, and there are plenty to be found in Alaska’s wide open spaces. Visits to popular glaciers can sometimes include tours of these beautiful ice caves. And while you’re planning your excursions, browse through these Alaska tours to make your adventure complete.

A word of warning: the very nature of glaciers make ice caves unstable and dangerous, so know the risks and your own skill level before attempting to trek to these frozen vistas by yourself.

Mendenhall Ice Caves

The Mendenhall Glacier ice caves are among the world’s most stunning, with their eerie, swelling blue domes that resemble the underside of a rapid river, flash-frozen. They’re found in Southeastern Alaska’s rainy Tongass National Forest, but once you arrive you might think you’ve somehow traveled beyond Alaska and ended up in a fantasy land far, far away.

Like hidden treasure, these caves take a lot of skill to find, and professional guides are strongly recommended. It is a six- to eight-hour hike to reach the iconic cave and you must bring the necessary glacier-travel equipment such as crampons and an ice axe. The land route is unmarked and can be steep and slippery. However, if you’ve got cold-water paddling skills, the caves can be accessed by lake.

Check with Tongass park officials about local guide companies that can take you there. If you are among the skilled and adventurous explorers who decide to go it alone, tell someone where you’re going and then brag about it when you get back.

Spencer Glacier, Chugach National Forest

This massive glacier is about 60 miles from Anchorage, south of the Turnagain Arm area of the Kenai Mountains in the Chugach National Forest. The glacier terminates in Spencer Lake surrounded by alpine mountain vistas.

Accessible only by train, the USDA Forest Service partners with the Alaska Railroad to offer views of Spencer Glacier through hiking or kayaking tours that leave from the Spencer Whistle Stop. Visitors can explore and learn about glacial features such as crevasses and ice caves. Again, caution is advised: the glacier was named for a railroad employee who disappeared in 1905 while trekking on the ice.

If viewing a glacier from a safe distance is more your style, and if you’d like to get an overview of the different types of glaciers in Alaska, take the Prince William Sound 26 Glacier Cruise that departs from Anchorage.

Matanuska Glacier Cave

A quick drive from Anchorage and even quicker drive from Palmer, you can view the stunning and massive Matanuska Glacier. This active glacier advances about a foot daily, slowly changing its own features. The water that flows from it creates the wild Matanuska River. The glacier itself, visible from the Glenn Highway (Pro tip: the best view is at Mile 101) is 27 miles long and four miles wide and accessible through the private Matanuska Glacier Park. For a hike to the caves, bring along a local guide who can ensure you’re stocked with the appropriate gear.

Root & Kennicott Glaciers

The enchanting Root Glacier is located in America’s largest national park, the 13.2 million-acre Wrangell-St. Elias. A visit to Root Glacier includes views of Donoho Peak and the rock-covered Kennicott Glacier, which might not look glacial, but there is actually ice underneath the dirt and stones.

While visiting Root Glacier, you’ll have the chance to explore tide pools on the surface of the glacier as well as its ice caves, deep ravines, and moulins – the holes that melting water cut into the ice. The Jumbo Creek ice cave in Root Glacier lets you stand inside a gorgeous space enclosed by blue-ice.

A stay at the Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge puts you just four miles from Wrangell-St. Elias National Park’s main visitor center in Copper Center, Alaska, about a three-hour drive northeast of Anchorage. Glacier tours are available from the abandoned mining town of Kennecott, where you can also tour the historic mill.

Now that you’ve been inspired to visit the unparalleled beauty of Alaska’s stunning ice caves, be sure to peruse the exciting Alaska tour offerings from Grayline to complement your visit to one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Cullen’s Baptism + 16 Weeks Postpartum Running

On Saturday, Cullen was baptized! We didn’t intentionally plan it, but what a better way to show our love for Cullen and the love God has for us by baptizing Cullen on Valentine’s Day. We had several friends and family attend the ceremony, and we were glad they were able to witness Cullen’s baptism. The priest blessings the waters Cullen would be baptized in. Cullen was a very good baby and did so good throughout …