A decade after the real estate crash, Chicago-area prices are nearing peak levels again. Which means that for the first time in years, purchasing a house is not a lock as an investment. That’s where we come in. We’ve pored over the data to identify 22 neighborhoods and suburbs where you can still find good buys.
The last time Chicago did a full by-the-numbers assessment of the real estate market across all housing types, in 2013, the answer to the perennial question “Is it a good time to buy?” was a resounding “Yes!” Prices had finally bottomed out after the crash of 2007 and had nowhere to go but up. But now that we’ve hit the 10-year postcrash milestone, how do things look? In a word, complicated.
Today, the city’s residential market is growing but still trails the rest of the country’s. The CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indexes, which track real estate trends, showed a 4.5 percent increase in single-family home prices for the metro area in 2016, compared with 7.2 percent nationwide. But when you get down to the neighborhood and town level, the picture varies sharply. Some areas are moving toward full recovery at a steady pace, promising continued growth. Others have seen prices continue to lag behind 2006 precrash levels, with lots of properties languishing on the market. Still others have topped out, with sky-high prices and little inventory.
To help prospective homebuyers make sense of all this, we’ve combed through a mountain of data stretching back more than a decade and consulted multiple experts, from real estate agents to economists and academics. We’ve come up with 22 neighborhoods and suburbs that have shown exceptional growth and resilience, making them smart places to buy.
Among the filters we used is a formula provided by Redfin that assigns every ZIP code in the region an investment index value reflecting not just how prices appreciated over time but also how evenly distributed those gains were across all homes in the area. This helped weed out locales where there were wild fluctuations in growth on a block-by-block or house-by-house basis, indicating instability. Next we eliminated areas that seemed to be recovering from the market crash too slowly, as well as those that showed signs of having plateaued.
At $452,000, Lincoln Park had the highest median condo sale price in the city last year, followed by West Town ($425,000) and the Near North Side ($409,500).
The Near North Side had the highest median sale price last year for single-family homes ($2.2 million) of any Chicago neighborhood. Houses there also spent the most days on the market—257, on average.
Only two suburbs cleared the $1 million mark for median sale price in 2016: Kenilworth and Winnetka (both at $1.2 million).
Portage Park and Ashburn tied for most single-family home sales in 2016, with 482 each. For multiunit housing, the Near North Side topped the list, with 2,726 sales.
With a median sale price of $1.3 million, the Near South Side had the priciest houses on the South Side in 2016.
Houses in McKinley Park spent the shortest amount of time on the market in the city in 2016: 49 days, on average.
Home prices rose 115 percent last year in west suburban Stone Park, a bigger one-year jump than in any other town.
Armour Square showed the highest increase in median house sale price in 2016, jumping 140 percent.
Since 2006—when housing prices peaked nationally—Edgewater saw the top increase in the median sale price of single-family homes, at 44 percent.
Englewood had the sharpest decline in median house sale price since 2006: 84 percent.
House prices in south suburban Harvey were down 81 percent from decade-ago precrash levels, the biggest drop across the six-county suburban area.
Only four suburbs saw a price increase over the past decade: Kenilworth (7 percent), Western Springs (7 percent), Elmhurst (2 percent), and Hinsdale (2 percent).
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2015 housing data