Downtown Tucson housing falls very short

Brianna Bush lives downtown, something she always wanted to do.

"I love it," she says.

But it took months of planning to find a place to live.

"You always have to be on top of it, look around neighborhoods, anything you can," she says. "Look on Craigslist, keep on it."

Downtown realtors share stores about all the people who say they want to live downtown but can't find a place to live.

The demand is high, the supply is low.

"As far as rental properties," says Tierra Antigua downtown agent Kent Simpson, "I'd put the figure somewhere around 600."

For some places, the wait list can be as high as a year. Eight months wait time is not unusual.

"You really have to time it, like when college students leave," Bush says.

However, many people don't want to rent downtown, "they'd rather buy," says Mary Lou Thompson, who has been selling real estate in Tucson for 38 years, much of it downtown.

There are lots of buyers, "we have to turn so many away," she says.

There isn't enough inventory to satisfy everyone who wants to live downtown even though it can be pricy.

She lives and sells in the Mercado district on the West side of I-10.

"The base price, a complete house and lot, starts at $550,000," she says. "The price went up again last week."

There is affordable housing in downtown, the Julian Drew one bedrooms sell for about $150,000.

The problem is most can't afford the down payment.

"Most people who are looking in the $150,000 market can't afford the $30,000 down payment," she says. "And that's what the bank requires these days."

She has sold a few for cash to foothills residents who are looking for a small place downtown for easy access to dinner, to entertain and take the streetcar to the football games "so they don't have to park and walk three miles."

There are at least two housing projects being considered for approval by the city right now but they won't make a dent in the need.

At least one project already has a waiting list.