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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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