PUBLISHED: 11:52 AM on Wednesday, February 1, 2006
'Good morning' Sitka
Southeast Alaska town touted as hot real estate market
It may have been a good morning in Sitka when the town was mentioned on national television, but the content might not have been as well received by its citizens.

On the Wednesday, Jan. 11, episode of "Good Morning America," Sitka was third on a list of "five hot real estate markets." Also making the list were Enid, Okla., South Bronx, N.Y., Jacksonville, Fla. and Oxford, Miss.

Barbara Corcoran said on the program that Sitka featured beautiful scenery with clean air and water, and the land was scarce and increasing in value.

Nancy Davis of Sitka's Davis Realty said that while the statements on the program were all true, locals feel that it made real estate seem easily attainable.

"People are scrambling to build any house, let alone an affordable house. There are local people who have been looking for a house - any house - for months and then they see this on TV," Davis said. "It kind of seems like they were saying if you have a lot of money, you can come in and buy a house. It's been a negative thing for most of the community, and it didn't help the locals a lot."

Lawrence Lood, executive director of the Sitka Chamber of Commerce, said he hasn't received any calls concerning the segment and wasn't aware that the town would be mentioned on GMA.

"I heard about it and thought it was cool, but we didn't have any advanced knowledge about it," Lood said. "This happens quite a bit, and we get notoriety from it. We live in a beautiful place."

Real estate appraiser Tim Riley of Horan and Co., who works in Sitka, said the timing of the segment did not match the busy real estate period. He said the winter is a down time in real estate, which picks up from May through August.

"People don't like to move until their kids are out of school. We see an increase during that time period," Riley said.

City assessor Jim Corak said he hasn't received inquiries from the south, but has talked to local realtors and appraisers about how GMA heard about Sitka.

"There's a lot of speculation as to who got us spotted in New York. Take your pick because no one is fessing up. We're all dying to know who squealed," Corak said. "Who knows where this will lead, but I don't think anyone down south is booking a flight to Sitka, especially not a one way flight."

Riley said the GMA segment was most likely generated by someone involved in money-making real estate.

"It didn't address people who were typical buyers. It addressed people in other purposes. We've seen some appreciation in the area and Sitka is right in there, but Juneau and Anchorage are more dynamic markets," Riley said. "Those might be sweet spots for a real estate investor, but I don't see people buying houses and not living in them to make profit later."

Davis said that while she has received a few phone calls from people who saw the GMA segment, none were serious buyers.

"I doubt anyone in Texas, New York or L.A. would fly out to Sitka to buy real estate," Davis said.

While developers are working on opening more land for building, there is still a problem with creating affordable housing, Davis said.

"Sitka is working hard to get some land open and make things happen, but the land is just not ours for the taking. If nothing else, maybe this spurred us on to work a little harder," Davis said. "Sitka is a beautiful place. I think people were glad to be on Good Morning America to get our name out there, but we still have a housing problem."