On February 17, 2020, The Seattle Times published an article titled “As Seattleites and their money flow south, Tacoma residents grapple with changing neighborhoods.” MovetoTacoma.com creator Marguerite was quoted a couple of times in the article and so we got lots of feedback about the Tacoma housing market, both good and bad.
Especially in recent years, affordable housing in Pierce County and King County (and really, on the entire west coast) is a serious problem. Why is this happening? There’s not enough housing to meet the demand. Pierce County is expecting another 60,000 people will move here before 2030. This will require tens of thousands of new housing units and neighbors willing to allow them. So far that is not happening on the scale it needs to.
Systemic changes need to happen in order for folks to be able to have affordable housing in Tacoma. Period.
Tacoma has also recently made headlines as being the hottest real estate market in the U.S., and while some may benefit from the hot market, many more are being priced out. Many people—longtime Tacoma residents and newcomers alike—are finding themselves wondering if they can afford to buy a home in Tacoma. The median home price for a house in Pierce County is now $375,000, and the median family income is more like $60,000.
Unless you have generational wealth, a windfall, or very generous friends, you could be feeling discouraged even if you earn good money. And we wouldn’t blame you.
Before the article came out, MovetoTacoma.com Creator and Tacoma Real Estate Agent Marguerite Martin interviewed Anders Ibsen on creative ways to buy a home in Tacoma. Anders brings his experience as a former Tacoma City Council Member and former real estate appraiser to his career as a real estate agent, and in this video he shares some of the ways that his clients have been able to buy homes in Tacoma and across Pierce County:
Marguerite and Anders Brainstorm a variety of ideas. In the end, you should find a local lender and local real estate agent you trust and communicate well with to help you come up with your own plan.
In the video Marguerite and Anders discuss:
– In most cases, you do NOT need to put 20% down to get into a home. So many people are under the impression that they can’t buy a home unless they have 20% of the home’s total cost for a downpayment. This is not always the case. In fact, the national downpayment average is 5%.
– Many people find local rental prices absurd, and rent costs just continue to rise. A mortgage locks in your monthly housing cost. Obviously, property taxes can and still increase, so calculate that into your plans.
– There are all types of home loans out there that can help you get into a home and lock in those monthly costs. There are FHA home loans where you can put down just 3.5%. You The city and state will also loan you a downpayment that you don’t have to pay back until you sell your house. Of course, in order to know what types of loans or assistance programs you might quality for, you HAVE to talk to a lender about all. Find someone you like and trust and work with them to make a plan.
– Anders recently helped some first-time buyers get into a home in Buckley (a city just east of Bonney Lake) for just under $400,000 with only $600 out of pocket. (The $600 was for the inspection.)
Of course, these suggestions and tips address people’s individual needs and circumstances, but don’t address the very necessary systemic changes that must occur so that all Tacomans can have the dignity of safe, stable housing.
For that, we encourage further reading/learning regarding the history of redlining in Tacoma:
- The Tacoma News Tribune: “How racism kept black Tacomans from buying houses for decades”
- Move to Tacoma Podcast: Adults Civic Happy Hour: Build Housing Not Walls
- Move to Tacoma Podcast: The Rent Is Too Damn High! Adult Civics Happy Hour
- Move to Tacoma Podcast: Dennis Hanberg on Planning for Growth in Pierce County
Learn more about some ways residents are banding together to strengthen the rights of Tenants in Tacoma.
If you’re lucky enough to already be a homeowner in Tacoma please fight to advocate for affordable housing for your neighbors, benefiting from the system without working to reform it is wrong.
Action items for homeowners in Tacoma: support new housing in every neighborhood. This can be in the form of multifamily housing, ADUs & DADUs, and telling your friends who are longtime out of state landlords to put those properties on the market for locals. Know your neighborhood is going to change if everyone will be housed. Advocate for how you want your neighborhood to change instead of fighting to keep your neighborhood exactly the same.
Do you need an intro to a good real estate agent in Tacoma? Contact Marguerite.