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Downtown Tacoma living

Join Tacoma's urban renewal

Downtown Tacoma living is on the rise. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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According to a recent article in TIME magazine, there has been a dramatic shift in urban versus suburban living in the United States. Since 2011, the rate of urban population growth has outpaced suburban growth; in some areas, this growth was substantial. Urban hubs and downtown living offer much in the way of conveniences, such as goods and services, transportation and other social pursuits. With its vibrant art scene, eateries, nightlife, museums, theaters, shopping and more, downtown Tacoma is no exception.

For the military community, downtown living offers lots of interesting and viable opportunities.

Tacoma's downtown region looks bright for real estate in 2014.  According to real estate agent and downtown Tacoma resident Marguerite Giguere, (, it's going to be a good year for the city.

"All the agents I'm talking to are very excited about 2014," she said. "2013 was unexpectedly busy, especially in the spring, and I think we will continue to see more buyers coming into the market.  Buyers are hearing about deals from their friends and getting in the game. My hope is that we have an active balanced market with plenty of sellers getting in the game as well."

In addition to a good real estate market forecast, Giguere anticipates an exciting trend for local businesses.

"What's amazing is all of the awesome and locally-owned businesses popping up in the past year or so in just my neighborhood, St. Helens/downtown," Giguere said. "None of these places are big corporate companies; these are local people who believe in our community. It's an amazing entrepreneurial energy downtown right now."

What does housing look like? Since the downturn, there haven't been any condo building projects in downtown Tacoma; however, Giguere notes that there are many great places to buy at a great price.

"There are still a number of very affordable bank-owned properties trickling in, and buyers are snapping them up," she said.

For active and retired servicemembers eligible for home loans through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), Giguere has some great tips for finding a downtown dream home in today's market.

"I strongly recommend townhomes. Condos are so cool, but they can be less flexible because of financing limitations," she said. "The biggest advantage of townhouses for military clients is that they can use their VA loans on them, meaning zero percent down payment, and there is no risk of not being able to rent the townhouse out if they are PCS'd to another area before they are ready to sell it. With condo buildings, there are limits to the number of units you can rent out at one time. Also, not all condos are VA approved."

So, what's the best tool to find out what kinds of urban condos or townhomes are available with a VA loan?  Giguere says the best tool is only a click away.

"This is the big one - the website where you can search for condos approved by the VA to use your VA loan with:"

And what about those other tools?

"The greatest tool a VA buyer in this market has is a great real estate agent and lender that they trust," she said. "Find people who speak your language and answer your questions in a way you can easily understand and verify."

Other great online resources to try:

Giguere's video explaining the difference between a townhome and a condo visit her YouTube channel - The Sky Diving Real Estate Agent.

The U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs:

Downtown On The Go (all about transportation options and opportunities): downtownon

Tacoma Regional Convention and Traveler's Bureau (activities and events):

Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce (business listings and events):

Experience Tacoma (Tacoma's business districts and neighborhoods guide): experience

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