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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Situated roughly between Lawrence and Belmont avenues on the north and south, and Cicero/Milwaukee avenues and Narragansett Avenue on the east and west
In Portage Park, as in other neighborhoods, one of Chicago's most reliable real-estate traditions—buying a two-flat and using the rent on one unit to pay most or all of the mortgage—was pushed aside during the late lamented housing boom. Now that tradition has returned.
"Two-flats have gone down 20 or 30 percent," says John Maloof, a Century 21 Grande agent, "so they now make economic sense again." In Portage Park, prices for two-flats had surpassed $500,000; now, Maloof says, they have retreated back into the high $300,000s. "That's where they should be," he says. "They are great investment property."
Mostly a neighborhood of two- and three-flats, Portage Park also has tree-lined stretches of bungalows (also good buys here) and single-family houses on its oldest blocks, northeast of Irving Park Road and Laramie Avenue. Maloof also notes that, because there was a great deal of speculation here during the boom, the neighborhood has experienced "a lot of foreclosures." He says that many of those foreclosed properties have already been rehabbed (or partially rehabbed)—which means some homebuyers can get a bargain price without incurring additional costs for renovations.
PLUS: The namesake park, whose swimming pool was built for the Pan American Games in 1959 and used for the U.S. Olympic swim trials in 1972
MINUS: Another neighborhood short on dining and shopping