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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CITY NEIGHBORHOODS

BRONZEVILLE
Situated roughly between 31st and 47th streets on the north and south, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and the Dan Ryan Expressway on the east and west

If any Chicago neighborhood is poised for greatness, it has to be Bronzeville, with its vivid history, stunning 19th-century homes, easy access to the Loop and expressways, and a revivified Illinois Institute of Technology. The neighborhood has been on the rise for more than a decade, and yet it is still possible to buy here at very reasonable prices. Chalk that up in large part to the numerous vacant lots, which ensure that the demand for new homes can’t outpace the supply, since there are always more lots to develop. Still, those lots make some anxious house hunters wary. “People can be unrealistic about how fast things should happen here,” acknowledges Michelle Browne, a Rubloff agent who works in the neighborhood. “Lincoln Park did not become Lincoln Park in five years.”

Bronzeville was a bleak place in 1987, when Joe Davis moved into a row house on 44th Street (next door to the one where Louis Armstrong had lived in the 1920s). “There was gunfire every night,” says Davis. “Now you see people out walking on the sidewalks in the evening.”

Since he is moving out to care for an elderly relative, Davis has listed his 3,000-square-foot home for sale at $299,000. It needs a gut rehab that might cost as much as $150,000. In the end, for about $450,000—the starter price for a bungalow in some other city neighborhoods—a new owner would have a four-story gem. There are similar bargains throughout the neighborhood, as well as lots of new, low-priced construction.

PLUS: Smacked once by flippers and speculators in the recent boom, Bronzeville has become a buy-and-hold neighborhood.
MINUS: Pockets of unimproved housing and empty lots

 

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