As we usher in the new real estate season at Redfin, a big question on our minds is: Which neighborhoods will be the darlings of 2014? In search of answers, we went to our website users, tallying hundreds of millions of pages they visited and homes they added as Favorites to monitor for price changes or sales. At the same time we asked hundreds of Redfin real estate agents across the country to share their insights on which neighborhoods are buzzing and why.
Whipping up this special cocktail of big data analysis and real-life human experience, we assembled our list of neighborhoods with the greatest growth in popularity over the last four months.
Without further ado, here are the hottest neighborhoods of 2014:
What Are People Looking for in a Neighborhood?
Highly ranked schools and scenic community parks look like the obvious common thread among the top neighborhoods. However, Redfin agents have found that the real trend in 2014 neighborhood popularity is a short commute at an affordable price. The trending neighborhoods offer a short drive to or easy access to a commuter rail line at prices that are not the most expensive in the city.
“After a year in which prices popped 13%, Americans are checking out still-close-in but often-overlooked neighborhoods in search of affordability, even if it means less-fashionable restaurants or a home that needs a little more work,” said Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman. “Like the actress who was nominated for 18 Emmys before finally winning, these are the Susan Luccis of neighborhoods, finally getting their due. The buyers who have made these alternative spots so hot aren’t like the ones we saw in the last boom, who just borrowed more and paid up. Our clients in 2014 have settled on a price range, and they’re sticking to it.”
While the top ten neighborhoods throughout the U.S. make an interesting and entertaining list, most people are searching within one city, not nationwide. Here are the top five rising stars of 2014 across 21 housing markets. Use the links below to jump to a market, or scroll down through the whole list.
Morningside-Lenox Park’s popularity is growing because of its proximity to Virginia Highland, a historically in-demand Atlanta neighborhood. Morningside-Lenox Park is a great, less expensive alternative to Virginia Highland, and has many of the same amenities, including well established, quirky eateries and a strong sense of community. Two of the largest Atlanta-area employers, AT&T and Emory University are nearby, attracting employees looking for an easy commute.
Barrington Oaks boasts a prime location; just off Highway 183, it’s very close to great shopping and is an easy commute to many major employers in Austin. Another perk of this up-and-coming neighborhood is the sought-after school district.
Harpers Choice is growing in popularity because of its proximity to both Columbia and Ellicott City. Being within driving distance of both cities, which made CNN Moneyâ€™s Best Places to Live list in 2012, gives residents access to suburban living and big-box stores, as well as a charming, historic downtown and tons of local restaurants. BRAC changes in nearby states are causing an influx of new residents to the area and Wegmans grocery, which is known for its cult following, opened shop in Harpers Choice in June 2012, becoming a major amenity and employer in the area.
Several factors are all coming together at the same time in and around East Cambridge that will really influence the neighborhood’s growth over the next few years. Tech giants, such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft have all set up shop in neighboring Kendall Square, and the biotech industry is growing nearby as well. M.I.T. owns a lot of land in Kendall Square, where it’s developing retail spaces, restaurants and eateries, entertainment spots, additional housing and research institutions that will transform the area into a more lively place. And with the expansion of the Green Line, the relocation of Lechmere Station and the NorthPoint developments, public transportation in East Cambridge will be more accessible and aesthetically pleasing to the community.
Consistent price increases in neighboring Wicker Park and Logan Square have caused home buyers to settle in nearby Humboldt Park, where prices are lower and space is more abundant than in the more expensive areas nearby. Humboldt Park has a wide variety of historic homes as well as new construction homes with green features, all creating an eclectic mix of housing options for those looking to buy. This area also has ample green space thanks to recent infrastructure projects such as the revitalized Bloomingdale Trail, which created Chicago’s first elevated public park and nearly three miles of multi-use recreational space for area residents.
North Dallas/Richardson’s Greenwood Hills neighborhood offers the inviting Woodland Park right next to Greenwood Hills Elementary School. With close proximity to the UT Dallas Campus, the neighborhood also has convenient opportunities in higher education for as well.
City Park is known for its charming mid-century bungalows that often have large yards. These desirable homes are just a ten minute commute away from the center of downtown Denver. The neighborhood of City Park also has quite a few popular spots; stop by the Three Lions for a beer or grab tacos at Pinche Taqueria.
The first thing that comes to mind is the great restaurants located within the neighborhood, specifically Marche Bacchus and Garfield’s. Sitting on the patio at Marche Bacchus with the ducks and turtles swimming in the lake as you’re having one of the best meals in Las Vegas is an experience every local and tourist needs to have. In the summer, residents enjoy feeding the ducks and geese, a rare opportunity when you live in the desert. There are a variety of home sizes and styles for almost any buyer, and the location is great. It’s adjacent to Summerlin, another vibrant community, and only a mile or so off the freeway for easy commuting. Additionally, large lots are plentiful here as the homes were built in the 90s. That’s something thats’ becoming more and more rare in Las Vegas.
Most North Levittown homeowners have now expanded and renovated their original “Levitt homes,” turning them into attractive and affordable houses with relatively low taxes and convenient to Long Island’s major highways.
Eagle Rock has grown increasingly popular because it has so much to offer. Even though you’re in the Los Angeles area, it has a small town feel; you’ll find well-kept homes often full of charm and character on mature tree-lined streets. Some buyers are attracted to the schools, and others appreciate the many great shops, bars, and restaurants on Colorado Boulevard.
While Delhi boasts some of the more affordable homes in Orange County, we’re seeing East Tustin experiencing higer demand due to its central location, as well as its close proximity to Irvine, which is much more expensive by comparison. Buyers can get much more home for their money in the Tustin area, without sacrificing location, safety or amenities. The area also offers a mix of older, more established neighborhoods in addition to relatively newer homes, such as the Tustin Ranch community, giving the area broad appeal among buyers. The area has also seen an expansion of shopping, entertainment and other new businesses in recent years, due to newer construction in and around Tustin.
A big reason Wayne has become so popular is that it is home to the desirable Radnor School District while offering a wider variety of home sizes and types at more affordable prices than other top-rated Main Line schools. Residents can hop on a quick train to City Center or quickly drive to attractions like the historic Valley Forge National Park, King of Prussia mall, and Aronimink Country Club.
Located in the foothills of the McDowell mountains, the beauty of McDowell Mountain Ranch is undeniable. In addition to stunning views, it’s just ten minutes from world class dining, shopping, resorts, and golf. For those who like to travel, it’s close to the Scottsdale airport. The schools are also highly ranked, making it a great location for families.
When Concordia University, a small private institution, made the decision to invest tens of millions of dollars and expand into a more traditional college, this surrounding sleepy neighborhood that had been living in the shadow of the Aberta Arts District, was revitalized. Concordia is now a thriving grassroots community full of beautiful tree-lined streets and a wide array of locally owned businesses. Residents of Concordia love its open and friendly atmosphere.
When you think of mid-century modern Palm Springs architecture, Racquet Club Estates is probably what you’re envisioning. The neighborhood is filled with historically significant Alexander and Meiselman built homes on large lots with sleek roof lines and reasonable prices. Originally built as vacation homes, the neighborhood has become popular with people restoring the homes and appreciating the resurgence of mid-century modern living.
East Sacramento is full of vintage charm. Walk through the “fab 40s” and you’ll see unique and beautiful homes from the early 20th century. Residents enjoy the neighborhood’s bike paths, tree-lined streets, nearby cafes and coffee shops, and the ability to commute by lightrail. The close proximately to the midtown area, known for its great restaurants and fabulous nightlife, is also part of the appeal.
Poway is known for its award-winning school district, and many of my clients are attracted to the area for this reason. It’s a great alternative for people who want to live near San Diego, but can’t afford a home with a backyard in the city, where land is more expensive.
Bernal Heights has “It”. It has the small town feel while still being in San Francisco. You can feel as though you’re separated from the craziness of the city when you get home, yet are so close if you desire a night on the town. I think Bernal Heights homebuyers are attracted to all the parks that are available, access to Cortland street shops and restaurants, and the strong sense of community. Bernal also offers easy access to the 101 and 280 for those who work in the South Bay or travel a lot. 2013 brought a competitive market for all of SF, and especially for Bernal Heights. Nearly every offer I wrote in Bernal Heights in 2013 faced competing bids. People who buy in Bernal tend to see it as somewhere to put down roots and build a life rather than as a temporary place to live.
The Cherry Chase neighborhood is a premier choice for buyers who are looking in the Sunnyvale and Cupertino area. The location is fantastic – centrally located between Mountain View and Cupertino – just a few miles from the headquarters of some of the largest technology companies in the world (Apple, Google and LinkedIn). It’s also located near top rated schools. Competition in this neighborhood is fierce; expect to face bidding wars with multiple parties and see the sales price go significantly over the asking price. Successful buyers in this market will likely have strong financing and waive most or all contingencies.
Phinney Ridge is still known for its great farmer’s market, highly-ranked schools and active neighborhood association. However, Phinney has developed into a hip destination with fantastic restaurants, cool wine bars and cafes, and wonderful clothing and specialty boutiques. The classic homes on Phinney have the character that people desire, and properties on either side of the Ridge can offer wonderful mountain and water views.
Upper Chevy Chase has become a popular destination for buyers looking for single family homes and highly rated schools. Chevy Chase is priced significantly lower than Georgetown and has single family homes which are lacking on Capitol Hill. People often happily settle on Upper Chevy Chase after realizing they can have top-rated schools without having to leave the District or abandon the ability to quickly get downtown.
How We Determined the Hottest Neighborhoods
Redfin looked at 21 top metro areas and the neighborhood ranks for total pageviews and Favorites (the heart button) on homes on Redfin.com between September and December of 2013. We then compared those 2013 ranks with the corresponding neighborhood ranks in 2012. The final rankings looked at how far the neighborhoods jumped up the charts and how close they got to the number one spot.
Tommy is a Real Estate Data Analyst at Redfin in Seattle. He brings interesting information and insights to home buyers, sellers, owners, as well as industry experts. Throughout his career working in the real estate and analytics, he's never met a number or chart he didn't find interesting. Tommy grew up in Atlanta, GA and earned a degree in Computer Science from Georgia Tech. With his wife and two kids, you can find him on the Burke-Gilman Trail biking through Seattle, or hiking up in the Cascade Mountains.