I've been a lurker for a couple months and there's a TON of great info on this site, but I'm hoping I might get a little specific advice. My wife and I are looking to move to the Tacoma or Olympia area around May of this year, and are looking at making the jump from renting to owning. We've talked for some time about wanting to manage both short/long term rentals down the road, and need to start taking steps towards that. We both have careers that allow us to work remotely (not just due to COVID), so we have flexibility on where we live and we have family in the Olympia area.
We have been discussing the idea of investing a bit extra to get a place that would work to rent out while having minimal to no shared common space (duplex, ADU, separate entrance). We're looking at living in this property for a shorter time (5 years or less) with the intent of renting out the space we lived in and seeking a new/upgraded primary residence nearby, and keeping keeping the property if it is performing as an investment.
-With JBLM being a big source of tenants, and with potential employer growth in the Tacoma area plus further infrastructure to support commuting to Seattle, we are considering Tacoma as a primary market, though Olympia is definitely an option. If investing were off the table, we'd likely buy in Olympia to be closer to family.
-We have also discussed moving to the area and renting for a year or so to get to know the area, but with appreciation being what it is we're a little hesitant due to the opportunity cost.
-We have been watching listings in the area and are worried about the limited inventory, that it will be very difficult to get a decent property that fits our purpose.
I'm happy to reply to any questions or connect with members or maybe agents about if now is a good time to pursue these goals, and any suggestions for specific neighborhoods or agents to look at.
I live in Olympia and an a part owner in a couple duplexes, both on the east side of Olympia. Olympia market is hot as a teakettle and especially the duplex market. Very very limited inventory. And when a duplex does come on the market, most of the time both sides have tenants which can be a challenge if you're trying to house hack. We're probably going to sell one of ours once the rehab is done on the vacant side in large part for this very reason. There are very few triplexes and fourplexes in Olympia/Lacey/tumwater but there's a decent amount of duplexes, mostly built in 1950's - 80's. The other thing I would recommend if you're thinking about olympia/tumwater/Lacey is a home with either a detached garage that you can convert to ADU or a big enough lot that you can build one from scratch. Lacey has a program in which they have pre-approved ADU plans they will give you for free if you're property qualifies and drastically reduce the permit and other city fees because they're trying to incentivize more ADUs. And this program is coming to Olympia and Tumwater in the near future also. The rules are slightly different in each city, for example I think Lacey is the only one that will allow for the ADU to be built on a non owner occupied property but if you're interested I would just call the city. They're very helpful because like I say they're trying to incentivize more ADUs to help with affordability. Long post but those are some things to think about...
I own a rental in Olympia and have had a lot of success with Military tenants. The rental market in Olympia definitely favors landlords considering the low volume of doors available. If I could, I would buy another sfr with a fenced in yard and put a military family in it.
@Ian G. Sounds like you've been thinking about it for a while now! Can I ask where your moving from? I am a broker here in the Olympia area, but I got started in real estate as an investor well before I got into the business full time. As you noted, the market is super hot right now and inventory is at record lows. I was looking yesterday and there was only about 120 single family houses (regardless of price point) in all of Thurston County on the market. Pretty crazy. Pierce County is even hotter! I read recently that Pierce County was one of the hottest counties in all of the USA. I would suggest that both counties are going to perform similarly over the coming years and to move wherever you think is best for your lifestyle and general comfort. If you wanted me to set you up on a property tracker or two, we could set some specific criteria, such as w/ ADU's, split-levels, extra kitchens, etc. and see new listings as they hit the market. Happy to help if I can!
Hey @Ian G. ! My wife and I own rentals in the Tacoma/Lakewood area and have had success renting to military families (as well as other tenants). I’ve helped a number of clients purchase in Pierce and Thurston Counties. The market is hot and inventory is low but deals can still be found, especially if you’re okay putting in a little bit of sweat equity. Feel free to reach out if you’d like to chat further. 😊
@Ian G. , The Tacoma/Olympia/Lakewood areas are pretty hot for a while. For small multifamily, they typically get sold way above asking price with multiple competing offers. Something with ADU/DADU/MIL/... is still competitive, but less than small multifamily.
There is some talk that Amazon and Tesla are going to build a big commercial space in the Lakewood area. This will make the market there (and in surrounding cities) even hotter.
Feel free to reach out. I am always open to more conversation over the phone or coffee!