Thirsty for information about Alaska Real Estate? Whether you're a home buyer, seller, investor, or just curious, we've got you covered! Comments and questions are welcomed!

Sept. 23, 2016

Home Buying Process: Pre-Qualification

This blog series will be an 8 part discussion that will explain the basic steps to purchase a home here in Alaska.

After reading this series, you should have the basic understanding of what it takes, what is required from you, and all parties involved in the home purchasing process.

The first step to buying a house is to get pre-approved, or pre-qualified with a lender or banking company.

Why is this important? Looking for a house without pre-approval is like hunting without a working rifle. You don’t know how big you can go (purchase price), if you need to work on anything (credit, job length, etc.), or a slew of other factors that could prevent you from buying a house.

There are many different lenders who basically do that for you. My recommendation is typically to go with a local lender or a lender that offers a specific program that fits your needs and desires. For instance, if you’re going to use an FHA loan, most lenders can typically do the same interest rate, however, some may be able to offer you no origination fee, saving you thousands of dollars. If you want to purchase a foreclosure, you may need to get an FHA 203K loan, or use Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) for their renovation loan.

If you don’t know what type of loan program you should use, consult a knowledgable licensed Real Estate agent to help you make an informed decision. Without knowing what you want to do, there is no clear path.

Four basic premises of pre-qualifcation are:

  1. satisfactory job history or length of employment
  2. verifiable income
  3. suitable DTI (debt-to-income ratio), and
  4. satisfactory credit score.

If you have had a job for the last two years, or have just gotten out of college and into a career position, 580 credit score or higher, you should be on your way to buying a home.

For more information, please contact our local Alaskan Realtor James Cash at 907-360-7448 or e-mail for more information.

Posted in Lending
June 21, 2016

How To Have A Better Conversation


Ok, so usually I just write about Anchorage Real Estate topics, but today I thought this topic was fitting. I have a lot of conversations with people, clients, friends and family. At times, I find it frustrating to enter into a conversation with some one who only wants to listen, or argue. These are my top 10 tips on how to have a great conversation! 

1. Don't multitaskMultitasking creates unnecessary distractions that make having a conversation awkward, and disconnected.

2. Don't pontificate"Everyone you'll ever meet knows something you don't."

3. Ask open-ended questionsStarting your questions with “why, what, how, when” rather than “yes” or “no” questions leads the conversations to areas it might not otherwise lead.

4. Go with the flowIf thoughts come into your mind, ask them. The fluidity of breath that this gives a conversation makes it just that - conversing.

5. If you don't know, say that you don't know.  Don’t pretend just for the sake of being agreeable or looking ignorant.

6. Don't equate your experience with theirs.  "If you're having trouble at work, or lost a loved one, don't bring up your experience. Empathize. It's not about you."

7. Try not to repeat yourself. "It's boring and condescending.” If you have a valid point, bringing it up once is enough!

8. Stay out of the weeds. "Names, dates and details are unimportant. They care about you, not the deets."

9. Listen - the most important skill.  Buddha said, “If your mouth is open, you're not learning."

·       “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Steven Covey

10. Be brief.  "A good conversation is like a miniskirt, short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.”  If there are quotes, just extrapolate on them. If it’s a bullet point, try to write it out.


Posted in Education
June 3, 2016

What is a short sale?

The Secret to Short Sales!

If you're looking to get a "deal" on a real estate in Anchorage, Eagle River or Wasilla and Palmer, you've probably seen screaming deals advertised as a short sale. In today's blog post, we'll discover exactly what a short sale is, the process by which it happens, and how you can get one of those screaming home deals!


A short sale is typically granted by a bank for two main reasons: the seller has endured a recent hardship and is unable to make mortgage payments and/or there is not enough equity in the home for a straight sale to pay off the entirety of the mortgage.


Some examples of a seller hardship may include: reduced income, unemployment, economic hardships, divorce, death, personal and medical emergencies, unforeseen issues with the home resulting in large bills.


The seller, after being left with no option, must present a short sale packet to the bank identifying their hardship and also giving their approval for a short sale to happen. Why would they do this? Often times the only alternative is a foreclosure, which could have a much larger impact on their life (most importantly, credit) than a short sale.


Now that we know what a short sale is, how can you get one? Can just anyone get a short sale for that oh so precious instant equity? Well, the right answer is: it depends.


Depending on the shape of the home, it may be financeable through common conventional means (FHA or VA financing). Due to FHA and VA regulations, the terms on which they will provide financing for a home depends largely on the shape it's in. To simplify the idea of this, the home needs to be in a good “livable” condition, and will need to comply with the standards of a home appraisal.


If the home needs work, such as a new heating system or a new roof, there are some alternative financing programs. These include the FHA 203k program and other rehab loans (click here for more information on local rehab loans).


Beyond this, if you are a seasoned investor or property flipper, you may have an existing relationship with a bank that will give you either a conventional loan, personal line of credit (PLOC), or portfolio lending based on your economic conditions and past experience.


Lastly, if the property is in rough shape and financing is not an option, cash is always king! This means you will have to pay in secured funds (cash or cashing out an IRA for example) for the property. The good news here is you can get an ample discount at times if you do use cash.


If you are dead set on acquiring a property that is in rough shape, it cannot be financed, and you do not have cash, there are always Hard Money Lenders that may be willing to help you out. This is a topic for another time, but if you're a motivated individual who can commit to a solid game plan, this could be a route for you!


So there you have it! We now know what a short sale is, and how to get one. Now that you know, click here to start finding those deals!

For more information, please call our local Real Estate Expert James Cash at 907-360-7448 or e-mail at

Posted in Education
May 27, 2016

Do Realtors Get Paid Too Much?

Anchorage Realtor For Sale Sign 

            That’s a solid maybe. If you’ve seen recent Hollywood movies like “The Big Short” where air-headed Realtors converse over cocktails lavishly laughing about how much money they make without a clue how the game is played, you probably have a bad representation of us.

            There’s also the real-life version, driving around in a brand new Audi or Mercedes, who don’t seem to know how to tie their own shoes. This exists even in our great state of Alaska!

            While these examples of fictitious and real-life personas do exist, do they really get paid too much?


What Is Their Job?

            A discussion we should have first is: What is their job? Typically, it is to represent a homebuyer or home-seller in the process of buying and selling homes. This is where the term “Buyer’s Agent” and “Listing Agent” come from.

            It is notable to mention that typically, a normal person’s biggest purchase in their lives will be real estate related. It would then only make sense that some of the biggest commissions to be collected in a sales job would come from real estate.

            Let’s dissect this a little further though. We know what their job is, but really, what do they do for all that money?

Buyer’s Agent

            This is the guy or gal that is helping you buy your first home, or your next investment property. Their sole duty is to represent you as a buyer during the process of closing a prospective home. This can also be more time consuming than representing a seller. Typically, the process goes like this:

·      Identifying a property that fits your specific criteria, including:

o   Performing CMA’s to make sure the property is priced appropriately

o   Performing cost analysis sheets if the property is an investment

o   Performing projected gross and net proceeds if the property is a flip

o   Finding the best neighborhood based off of your specific needs

·      Help identify specific loan programs that are best for your specific needs

·      Doing their homework based on market knowledge to form an offer

·      Presenting the offer in the most appealing fashion, and negotiating:

o   Closing Costs, Terms, Repairs

·      Connecting you with Home Inspectors and Contractors who are the best in their field for the prospective property

·      Connecting you with legitimate title companies

·      Making sure all parties of the transaction abide to strict timelines and deadlines as to not delay closing

Basically, if your buyer’s agent is doing their job, you say, “I want this property, make it happen” while you sit back and they guide you for every step. If your Agent is not doing this, you’ve picked the wrong one.


Seller’s Agent

            This is the individual who helps you sell your home. Their sole duty is to price, market, and negotiate the sale of your home. This can be a harder task than being a Buyer’s Agent depending on the market, and it most likely will result in a direct cost to them (through marketing and advertising). How do you know if your Realtor is doing a good job? They should be doing the following:

·      Appear professional in your first introduction or interviews and well established in their market knowledge and abilities

·      Adequately present you with CMA’s (comps) for your property to indicate they have found the HIGHEST price for your home that will still let it be competitive on the market (overpriced homes don’t sell)

·      Market your home, including:

o   Professional Photos

o   Flyers

o   Signage

o   Internet Marketing

o   Direct Mail Marketing

o   Lead Capture of prospective buyers

o   Open Houses (though studies show these aren’t that effective)

·      Easy accessibility for ALL PARTIES (if your Realtor doesn’t answer their phone for you, will they answer for an eager buyer ready to write an offer?”

·      Knowledge and use of technology, including: Microsoft Office, Social Media Platforms, MLS systems, Website monitoring, Client Monitoring and integrated calendar scheduling

·      Firmly negotiating incoming offers with your best interest in mind

·      Keeping you up to date with the market

·      Keeping you up to date and on timelines for the transaction

·      Knowing what to watch out for during your transaction (weak offers, weak lenders, weak buyers, potential downsides to offers and contractors or companies to avoid, etc.)

If your Realtor is not doing ALL of the following, you may have chosen the wrong one!


What’s The Verdict?


            Poor performing Realtors are definitely overpaid! Whether they have a big name and do volume just because they can, or they are just starting out, you can definitely over pay for a poor service.

            If you’re Realtor is on point with their Reaxl Estate game, you’re not over paying at all. I can tell you from personal experience; I have experienced more joy and more stress in Real Estate than anything else I’ve ever done in my life. My phone is almost never off, and I try to be accessible at all times for the convenience of my clients while maintain a family life. 5AM phone calls, and showings at 7PM on a Sunday are the easy busy-work tasks that a solid Realtor has to deal with.

            Before you choose to hire a realtor, ask them the tough questions before handing them over their commission. Make them work for it, but be polite. Interview multiple candidates for the job until you’re confident you’ve found the right help!


If you’re looking for a local Realtor to assist you with buying or selling in Anchorage, Eagle River or Wasilla and Palmer, call or text James Cash today at (907)-360-7448 or e-mail at

Posted in Education
May 13, 2016

Why using a Realtor is amazing!

Why using a Realtor is amazing!


            Have you ever wondered why some people use a Realtor / Agent and some people shy away from it? Have you also wondered why we just don’t use lawyers? These are all great questions that we will answer in today’s blog.

properties of alaska smiley

            Firstly, let’s get a couple of key fundamentals out of the way. In Alaska, a person who is licensed to assist in the sale of Real Property (AKA Real Estate) is called a Licensee, not an Agent. This had to do with some legal semantics about labeling and advertising, but for all intents and purposes, please call us whatever makes you feel best! Agent does sound cool though!

realtor license            Secondly, not all Real Estate professionals in the state of Alaska are “Realtors.” Realtors are a group of licensed individuals who are upheld to a higher level of ethics and standards. Becoming a realtor requires additional fees and certifications (including continuing education hours) that set them apart from others. I think about this like I do Personal Trainers in the fitness industry. Anyone can go online and get some cookie cutter, low-level certification. Then there are those who have to graduate college with a 4-year degree in order to get their certifications. Obviously with a higher standard of certification usually comes a higher level of knowledge, service and commitment to the profession.

(P.S. I am a firm believer that there are amazing Real Estate professionals who are not Realtors even though I am a licensed Realtor.)


            If you’ve watched movies like “The Big Short” or have succumbed to the stereotypical image of a flashy salesperson stumbling out of their Audi draped in Gucci sunglasses while just getting off of their Bluetooth, you may be getting the wrong image.

            Just like with any profession, whether a doctor, lawyer or dentist, there are people who fit the bill of a Hollywood heel. For the most part, in my experience, Realtors in Alaska are normal people living normal lives who care more about people than money. I think it is very easy for a person to stereotype some one who is professional that obviously looks and dresses the part. Would you hire a doctor who’s about to do heart surgery that rolls up to your consultation in a rusted Toyota? Or would you go with the suit and tie doctor driving up in his luxury car, with whom you’ve only talked to his assistant at this point? Probably the professional who has made hard work, through his expertise, let him make a good life for himself.


            Typically, Realtors (Agents) are classified into two categories. There are Buyer’s Agents, and Sellers Agents (commonly referred to as a Listing Agent).

            Buyer’s Agents typically represent the prospective buyer of a property. Seller’s Agents typically represent the seller on a prospective piece of property or home.

            It is important to note that in the State of Alaska a Real Estate Professional can be dual-licensees. This means that he or she can represent both the buyer and seller. In some states this is illegal because it is very hard to represent both parties fairly and adequately with fair, and equal representation. If you’re looking at a specific piece of property, I would ask your Realtor if he or she is also the listing agent. You might want to consider getting representation for your side of the deal specifically. Why?

ethics            A Seller’s Agent is representing the seller’s best interest, and has most likely established that relationship before yours (relationships are important in any type of legal transaction). The seller’s best interest is to get the most amount of money for their property on the best terms possible. Re-read that last sentence and consider it before you think about using a Realtor as a dual-licensee.

            It is a Buyer’s Agent sole responsibility to find their client a conforming piece of property or home, that falls in line with their ideals, needs and wants and obtain it for the lowest price, on the terms that best suit the buyer.

            The cool thing about using a buyer’s Agent is that typically all the commissions paid out is from the Seller’s side of things. This means that using an Agent as a Buying Agent is free to you!


Why don’t people just use lawyers?

real estate gavelLawyers usually work off of an hourly rate (anywhere from $175-$400 an hour), and they do not have as much access to real estate information that licensed Real Estate Professionals do. Typically in a very large deal, Real Estate Lawyers can be brought in to provide specific assistance.


Why use an agent at all?

            That’s’ a very good question, and one that has a solid answer. A lot of people try to do what’s called “For Sale By Owner.” This is where they cut out the middle-man and try to work directly with a buyer in attempt to save themselves money.

            While, in theory, this sounds like a very good money saving effort, there are major issues with it. Unless a person is very familiar with land and home contract laws, specifically in that state, it can get messy. There is a reason why states have locally licensed individuals to take care of things like stock trading, real estate and legal practices. Very intricate laws mixed with confusing contracts can hold a homeowner to a lot of liability.

properties of alaska dollar sign            Just because you claim, “I didn’t know,” it won’t help you out. If you make a mistake because you did not know what you’re doing, it could cost you thousands of dollars, not to mention legal ramifications that result in fines, and even jail time.


These are just a few of the reasons why using a local Realtor in Alaska could benefit you big time! They have your best interest in mind and can save you thousands of dollars and maybe even save you from making some bad Real Estate deicions!




Interested in working with a local Realtor? Contact James Cash at 907-360-7448 or

Posted in Education
April 19, 2016

Yearly Home Maintenance In Alaska

Yearly Home Maintenance in Alaska

If you're a fellow homeowner, investment property owner or property manager, you probably know all about unexpected expenses in regards to property maintenance. In this blog, let's look at a short list of some simple things we should be doing yearly to keep deferred maintenance a thing of the past.


Roof Maintenance