We had the chance to talk with 360modern broker, Jeff Jensen to discuss the current state of the real estate market in Tacoma, and Pierce County. We wanted to know if the craziness we’ve been experiencing in Seattle lately is being felt elsewhere around the Sound. As it turns out, King county isn’t the only place facing a red hot real-estate market this season. We thought Jeff would be just the person to fill us in on what’s been going on with our neighbors to the south.
With more than 25 years of experience in real estate, Jeff’s involvement in the Pierce county market has included owning a multi office Windermere franchise for 11 years. More recently, Jeff has undergone some exciting changes in his professional career as he recently began a partnership with Keller Williams Real Estate in Tacoma, and launched Jeff Jensen Homes earlier this year. Jeff is also a lover of mid-century modern homes, and has both lived in, and remodeled several mid-century modern homes.
Tell us a little bit about the state of the real estate market in Pierce County, and Tacoma specifically
Overall Pierce county is a very hot market right now, as are certain neighborhoods around Tacoma in specific price points. There are some different trends occurring depending on where you are looking in Pierce County. For example, the North Tacoma market is different than Lakewood’s market, and Lakewood is different than Gig Harbor, and so on. Buyers in these different areas have unique needs. One thing that these markets have in common is that demand is exceeding supply, so we are seeing low inventories across Pierce County.
How do you think what’s going on in Seattle is impacting Tacoma’s Market?
If you are someone living and working in downtown Seattle who is paying an excessive amount in rent, considering a move to Piece county might be the right option for you. What you are paying in rent for a small space in Seattle, could afford you an entire home in Tacoma with room to spread out. In Pierce county, you get more for your money.
We’ve seen a large influx of people coming this way who are workers that can’t afford to both live and work in Seattle, so commuting is a more viable option. This is the demographic that is most responsible for driving the demand in the housing market right now. The sounder train has provided huge incentive for commuters to consider Tacoma, and as more job creation continues to occur in Seattle, Tacoma benefits from the trickle-down effect. Tacoma is a wonderful place to live, but lacks the job creation that we are seeing in King County. We hope that trend turns around going forward.
What is the demand for modern and mid-century homes like in Tacoma?
There has been an influx of interest in this market but not a lot of inventory. Tacoma incorporated around 1889, and most of the homes in the area were plotted and built in early 1900s. You have a few mcm pockets here and there, but very few neighborhoods embraced it. When these homes hit the market, there is a big demand, but the supply is low. This ends up creating a little bit of a premium when they come on the market. People are willing to accept them in less than perfect condition they because they recognize the value in the distinctive architecture and quality of craftsmanship that these homes offer.
What do you love about modern and mid-century homes?
I’ve lived in a few mid-century modern homes, and have had the chance to remodel one as well, so I definitely have an appreciation for this era of homes. I tend to gravitate towards these homes because of their look and style, but also because of the sheer volume of them, and their functional use of space. Because these modern homes have vast open floor plans, they often don’t compartmentalize into formal rooms, so instead you get large multipurpose areas that offer increased livability.
I’m also attracted to these homes because of the larger lot sizes they often sit on. A lot of the homes around Tacoma were built before the mid-century era, so they sit on smaller lots. Mid-century homes often offer more privacy and space to spread out. They are less vertical, and more sprawling.
What do you find to be a major benefit to living in Tacoma?
As someone who grew up in, and now lives and works in Tacoma, I’d say one of the biggest benefits for me personally is ease of mobility. There is a lot less stress in your life on a day-to-day basis when you don’t have to plan your days and meetings around traffic times and congestion. If you avoid the major interchanges around Tacoma, you can easily move from one side of the city to the other in a timely matter.
What do you love about Tacoma?
Tacoma certainly has a lot to offer. Not only is this an affordable place to live, but we are also surrounded by natural beauty and water, which creates lots of great recreational opportunities. Our views of the Sound, and Mt. Rainier can’t be beat. Plus, you can get more house, and more yard for your money in Tacoma. This makes it a great destination for families. We have access to decent school districts, and lots of great parks, including Point Defiance.
There is a lot of expansion in recent years in downtown Tacoma, with new shops and restaurants opening all the time, in addition to a thriving nightlife. Because Tacoma is a reasonably priced place to live we are seeing a lot of growth in urban living. New condos are being constructed, and older buildings are being given new life by being converted into modern housing.
There is no question that Peirce county is growing in popularity. It is a more affordable place to live than King County. For someone who is seeking homeownership and a slower pace of life with less congestion and a greater ease of mobility, Tacoma is a great option. If you are looking to buy a home around the Greater Puget Sound region, make sure you are taking a close look at Tacoma, because it has a lot to offer.