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: 12,489

“Please don’t tell the Cubs fans about us,” jokes Spero Speropoulos, a Re/Max Team 2000 agent, as we drive through Palos Heights. Indeed, North Siders might opt to trade in their Cub blue for the Sox’s silver and black once they see bargains like these: a newly built 3,600-square-foot brick-and-stone house with a three-car garage priced at $799,900; a turreted 16-room townhouse with a patio, a hot tub, and a big side yard going for $598,499; a modest 1,200-square-foot two-bedroom condo for $190,000 in a 1970s development that looks onto a wooded nature area.

For a relatively small community (about four square miles), Palos Heights has an unusually wide variety of housing sizes, styles, and ages. Prices too—although this being the south suburbs, the selection gets pretty thin when you pass $500,000. Properties that have sold so far this year divide mostly into two tiers: homes more than ten years old priced below $400,000 and those that are higher priced and newer. There’s a small surfeit of unsold houses in the latter category, “leftovers from the building boom,” Speropoulos says, and builders may start offering rock-bottom bargains as the slowdown grinds on. We toured a 4,200-square-foot house with great details—such as the stone-edged interior doorways, the hand-scraped Manchurian walnut floors, and a two-story family room with soaring windows—priced at $889,000. Soon it might be an even better deal.

PLUS: Two good high schools (Stagg and Shepard) and lots of outdoor destinations: charming Lake Katherine, ringed by a trail that overlooks the Cal-Sag Channel; the wooded Tinley Creek bike trail along the western edge of town; and enormous swaths of forest preserve south of town and a few minutes west, past the town of Palos Park
MINUS: “The only thing missing,” Speropoulos says, “is a juicy little downtown.” Most of the shopping and dining around here is concentrated in the strip malls along Harlem Avenue and 127th Street.



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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