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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SUBURBS

PALOS HEIGHTS
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.

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