Tacoma officials mull flipping derelict homes for a profit

TACOMA, Wash. - You've seen the reality TV shows: Buy a house, flip it, and walk away with thousands of dollars.

Now the City of Tacoma is talking about getting into the house flipping business too. They would buy, rehabilitate, then resell derelict properties for a profit.

"If it's going to improve the neighborhood I'd be all for it," resident Gina Kingsley says.

Kingsley loves the idea since she lives next to 2 houses in disrepair.

"Makes me feel like the neighborhood is kind of ghetto. You know, it doesn't make any of the other houses look nice," Kingsley adds.

One home is abandoned, empty, and boarded-up. The other has grass taking over the yard, the screen door is ripped, and there's trash everywhere.

Tacoma's Community Development Authority says they would partner with the city's code enforcers to buy problem properties and renovate them.

To kick start the program, they'd use $800,000 in federal grant money. Then they'd resell the houses to buy more houses, clean-up neighborhood blight, and help run the city's affordable housing programs at the same time.

But not everyone thinks it's a good idea.

"That's scary," real estate agent Drew Haffner says.

Haffner worries Tacoma would be interfering with the housing market by competing with private developers.

"Anytime government gets in to anything it tends to become - a budget gets out of control - they tend to not do it well," says Haffner.

The City says instead of compete, they'd work with developers to buy and sell just like anyone else - to make money.

The idea is still being kicked around, but officials hope for the program to start by next fall.