Developers eye Tacoma’s Hilltop area, as housing market skyrockets in Pierce County

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TACOMA, Wash. — Pierce County is leading the nation when it comes to rising rent.

It’s all fueled by the hot housing market.

Realtors say there are 50% less homes for sale on the market compared to two years ago. That means people are staying in rentals longer and rising home prices also mean renters are paying more.

Major developers are also investing in areas of Pierce County you may least expect. For example, the heart of the Hilltop neighborhood is set for a big development. The neighborhood has historically been known as a bad area due to crime, but developers feel it’s worth the investment.

A Kirkland-based developer has plans to build a 250-unit apartment complex with retail space on the bottom at the corner of 11th and Martin Luther King. The developer says it has submitted an application with the city of Tacoma and is currently waiting a building permit.

The developer says they are attracted to the area because of light rail expansion that includes a route along the apartment complex. They also say nearby hospitals and other big businesses make Hilltop a desirable location.

In the video above, watch Hana Kim's full report on this issue.

On Wednesday, Remax broker Dick Beeson showed Q13 News a small condo listing in the Hilltop neighborhood. Beeson says it’s expected to sell fast, possibly around $250,000. That’s about a 25% jump in price over the last couple of years.

As home prices go up, so do the rents.

“It’s going to cause some real hardships on people, there is no way around it,” Beeson said.

He added that the number of properties on the market in Pierce County has never been so low.

“Huge problem for us, huge record low inventory,” Beeson said.

The scarcity is placing Tacoma fourth in the nation for fastest-growing rents, with a 10.6% increase year over year. The study, conducted by RentCafe, looked at 250 different cities in the country.

“I’m worried about the pricing,” Charles Smith said.

Smith is excited about Pierce County’s potential but he also worries if he can afford it.

“I’m probably not even going to get to live in my own city in 10 to 12 years because of that,” Smith said.

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