Where to Buy Now

The silver lining behind the residential real-estate collapse is the opportunity for housing bargains. Here are 14 up-and-coming Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs where prices are relatively low and the promise for future growth is strong

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County: Cook
Population: 57,008

Like their Chicago cousins, the condos that have sprung up around downtown Des Plaines over the past decade “don’t seem to be moving as quickly as we had hoped,” says Debbie Geavaras, a Baird & Warner agent in the town. “That’s because there’s a lot of inventory. It’s nice inventory, but buyers are overwhelmed with possibilities.”

The recent transformation of the town’s once-drab downtown into a stylish, walkable hub—complete with an array of new restaurants and stores, a modern public library, and a Metra station—may help clear up that logjam. Meanwhile, sales of the town’s existing houses are cruising along. “There’s less inventory to compete with, so [single-family] homes are selling better,” Geavaras says.

Des Plaines is still a solidly middle-class suburb, so most houses are selling for less than $300,000 (although some outliers go for over $700,000). In June, a three-bedroom ranch built in 1961 and overlooking a park on the northern edge of town (farthest from O’Hare noise) went for $296,000. A 45-year-old four-bedroom split-level with a family room addition and other renovations went for $295,000. (It was a little closer to O’Hare, but still not in the loudest part of town.)

Geavaras says prices have slipped below 2005 levels in Des Plaines. That’s not great news for older owners looking to retire on the proceeds from their homes, but for the wave of new young buyers who are headed for Des Plaines, it’s helpful. “I’m definitely seeing people find very good bargains,” Geavaras says.

PLUS: Downtown dining
MINUS: The noise from planes in and out of O’Hare, particularly on the suburb’s south side




6 years ago
Posted by Laura Calvache


I like the concept of your article, reading with interest what neighborhoods will be up and coming in the near future, hoping that many realtors’ opinions would be shared as well. So, I examined with keen interest what the perspective is on Albany Park. However, this realtor finds your assessment of my neighborhood to be somewhat incomplete. Thank you for a great try, but maybe a little more substance is what is needed? For example, where but in Albany Park can you get a 3-4 bedroom, 2 bath home on an oversized lot for under $500,000? Smaller starter homes with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath are starting around $200,000 which is a resonable price for having your own home in the city. We are also close to some great trendy areas, like Lincoln Square and the Kedzie Brown Line stop, but yet close to the airport via Blue line or freeway and mall shopping in suburbs via the freeway. Thanks again.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Palos Heights is actually in the SouthWEST suburbs, a great area. The people are a lot friendlier than you will find on the north side and the areas and houses are overall not as old. Nearby Palos Park is one of Chicago's wealthiest and unknown suburbs and nearby Orland Park has everything!

4 years ago
Posted by mikeP

Why take a chance in an "up and coming" neighborhood when there is so much inventory in the established "always wanted to live there" neighborhoods? I think during a hot market is the only time you invest in up and comers.

3 years ago
Posted by monica1980

I agree with many of your choices, a smart person knows you buy low and sell high. Thanks for all your research it really comforts me to know that all my feelings about some of these investments I have made will pan out. I purchased a home in Aurora for less than what the previous owner paid of course she took a big loss when she sold due to her employment and I on the other hand will have the chance to wait and watch my investment grow. I have been watching real estate for many years and the best advice has never changed and that is location, some of the areas you have suggested are not just up and coming they are hot as far as shopping and so much more.Geneva offers one of the only dog friendly indoor malls and Aurora (Rt.59)has a casino, excellent parks and great access to the tollway and Metra.

3 years ago
Posted by jennifermadonia

Where can I purchase a copy of the October Issue of your magazine? I can only find November Issues on the stand.

3 years ago
Posted by Elizabeth Riley (Chicago magazine)

Hi Jennifer!

Back issues of the magazine can always be purchased through the site here: http://bit.ly/uHO2R3

Let me know if you need anything else.

2 years ago
Posted by Ben

I bought in Bronzeville three years ago and it was a great decision. The proximity to the lake, US Cellular, IIT, the Police HQ, downtown, and great transportation links are fantastic. There are amazing houses with history and character. People are generally very nice and welcoming. It's still rough around the edges, but I've seen good progress in the past three years even with the soft economy. A new bank replaced a fried chicken restaurant. Old run down buildings have been torn down and replaced with grass and trees. The new marina at 31st street is beautiful.

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