TACOMA, Wash. - In her 10 years as a real estate agent in the South Sound, Anne Jones has seen some of Tacoma’s low points.
"I got my license as the market was crashing," she told Q13 News.
But she's also seen some high points - particularly in the past few years.
"It's been dramatic," she said. "This robust market is the opposite end of the spectrum."
Jones says in 2014, the median home price in Tacoma was $165,00. Today, that same home might be worth closer to $255,000.
Still, that's a deal compared to Seattle's high-priced housing.
That's why some buyers are turning away from Seattle and heading to Tacoma instead.
"We used to say, oh some people would come from Seattle or from out of town and they come here to buy homes," Jones said. "But in the last two years, it’s a big chunk."
But Tacoma's growing popularity comes with its fair share issues, like affordability for everyone.
"The part that worries me is we are pricing out our locals," she said. "That’s tough right now…Tacoma has this great community, and our entry-level market is nuts."
So much so that buyers are now competing with others from out of state.
"It’s a huge number, not just from Seattle but from the Bay area, from Houston," she said. "(They're coming) out of other overheated markets where they can't get in."
Jones says first time home buyers in this market need to come prepared to face that growing competition.
"There is more preparation required to be a first time buyer in this market," she said. "You can't just wake up one day and decide you're going to buy a house."
She suggests having not just the 20 percent down payment, but also extra to pay for closing costs.
That's good advice as Tacoma’s real estate market warms up, and seems like its only getting hotter. That's not just because of its affordability, of course, but also its one-of-a-kind community.
"We are not a mini-Seattle," Jones said. "That’s a comparison that happens a lot of times. We are a city, we have a diverse population, we have an interesting art scene ... so there are some things in common, but we are a very different city."