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Tacoma rent hikes slow but still up a lot from last year

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Tacoma’s rent increases have slowed somewhat from earlier this yearwhen double-digit increases were the norm.

Still, the City of Destiny remains in the top 20 cities in the United States for year-over-year percentage rent increases, with a 7.7 percent hike to an average of $1,172 a month in September compared to the same month year.

Tacoma comes in at 11th in the nation, according to a list compiled by RentCafe.

More people are moving to the region, while not enough homes and apartments are being built to house them. The disparity in supply and demand is driving up rents and housing prices.

Some new residents are opting for a longer drive, sometimes from as far away as Thurston and Mason counties, rather than pay higher rents near where they work.

With a little math it’s easy to see why.

With Seattle’s average rents at $2,016 — 72 percent higher than in Tacoma — a sizable number of residents in some of Tacoma’s newer apartment buildings are working in Seattle and living hereapartment managers say.

Apartment vacancy rates have been climbing this year — which could be why rents haven’t climbed even faster. Still, competition for apartments is so intense that property managers are reporting dozens of calls and emails for a single online posting.

Meanwhile, nationwide, rents have been relatively flat for the past four months, according to the RentCafe report. The national average rent in September was $1,354, showing the slowest annual growth in six years.

The Seattle-Tacoma area was among the first metro areas in the nation to experience surging rents, said Nadia Balint with RentCafe.

“Demand plays a major role in this millennial hub,” she said in an email. “Its strong economy and healthy job growth are attracting many young professionals to the area.

“Even with the influx of new apartments, the market continues to thrive and rents are yet to stabilize.”

Two other cities in Washington also showed on the RentCafe list. Kent was sixth, with a 8.8 percent rent hike; and Seattle at 13th, with a 7.3 percent year-over-year increase.

As rents rise and wages stagnate nationally, fewer people can afford apartments.

Renting a two-bedroom apartment would require a renter to earn $21.96 per hour, according to a study released earlier this year from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

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