Forget the gleaming, high-rise towers in the nation’s most glamorous cities and those sprawling, palm tree–ringed residences with killer ocean views. Today’s hottest housing is located in towns and small cities that aren’t usually a part of the national conversation.
The realtor.com® economics team identified the 10 hottest ZIP codes in the country where demand is surging and homes are flying off the market—sometimes within hours of being listed. These places tend to offer cheaper homes, or less expensive prices per square foot for those seeking more spacious abodes, than the rest of their respective suburbs—which themselves are bargains compared with the nearby cities.
Some of these ZIPs are close to highways or public transit for commuters (when white-collar workers stream back to their offices) and may boast good school districts as well. Other ZIPs on our list are in less pricey cities, appealing to cash-strapped buyers.
“With prices growing faster than they were before the pandemic and people looking for more space, affordability has become even more important,” says realtor.com’s chief economist, Danielle Hale.
Many folks who have been spending more time than ever before in their abodes, especially those who will be working from home indefinitely, are looking for larger homes in more remote areas where it’s easier to maintain social distance.
“People are shifting away from Western metros, which tend to be more expensive,” says Hale.
Homes in these ZIPs sold in an average of just 18 days. That’s about four weeks faster than in their respective metropolitan areas and roughly 51 days faster than properties in the rest of the country. They also received about 4.3 times more views on realtor.com.
“This year’s list is definitely centered on the East Coast, which is a bit of a shift from previous years,” says Hale. “Some of those areas in the Northeast have bounced back in a big way [from a deluge of COVID-19 cases], which is probably helping them to rise to the top. … The absence of the South and Midwest is because of the pandemic and how it has played out over time in different parts of the country.”
To come up with our list, the realtor.com economics team looked at ZIP codes in the 300 largest metropolitan areas (which include the main city and surrounding smaller urban areas, towns, and suburbs) from April through June of this year. We ranked ZIP codes by which ones received the most page views per property on realtor.com and had the fewest days on the market.
ZIP codes needed at least 13 listings per month to be included. Only the top ZIP code from each metro was included.
So what are the nation’s most in-demand ZIP codes?
Cheaper ZIP codes in smaller cities are popular with buyers
The appeal of the ZIP code, about 80 miles south of Denver, may lie in its relative affordability. The median home list price was $306,500 in July—significantly less than the median $455,050 price within Colorado Springs’ city limits, according to realtor.com data. It’s also much less expensive than Denver’s median $550,000 price tag.
But that increase in demand has driven prices in the ZIP code up nearly 15.9% from last July.
“You can get a lot for your money here,” says Dominic Pucci, a real estate agent at Blockhouse Real Estate. He moved from California to the 80911 ZIP code, where he also sells homes now. He gets some buyers from California purchasing second homes or rental properties in the area as well as military personnel relocating from all over the country to one of the area’s five military bases.
Many of the homes in the ZIP code are rehabbed or recently flipped ranches and bilevel, single-family homes with yards. A five-bed, three-bath home in good shape with a two-car garage in the community is now going for about $330,000, he says.
The market is “still really cooking-hot,” says Pucci.
Affordable areas within commuting distance to larger cities are in demand
Reynoldsburg‘s 43608, No. 2, benefits from its proximity to Ohio’s capital city of Columbus—at about a third less of the cost. Homes in the Reynoldsburg suburb, about 20 minutes east of Columbus, are listed at a median $193,450—compared with $267,000.
“There’s lots of building, lots of jobs. Our whole surrounding area is hot,” says longtime Reynoldsburg real estate broker Oleta Johnson, of Gene P. Johnson Realty. She touted the nearby Ohio State University, an Amazon fulfillment center, and an expanded Facebook data center as just a few of the area’s employers.
“We’ve never seen anything like this,” says Johnson, who listed a four-bed, 2.5-bath house “in a nice subdivision” at 3 p.m. on July 31. It had 22 showings and three offers, and was sold by noon the next day for $275,000—for $15,000 above asking price.
“We were waiting for the other shoe to drop when this pandemic hit,” says Johnson. Real estate professionals were permitted to show homes through the pandemic. “But we haven’t seen any drop in pricing or time on market.”
Three Boston-area, smaller cities of Melrose, MA (No. 4), Hudson, NH (No. 7), and Worcester, MA (No. 8); the Portland, ME, outpost of South Portland (No. 5); and the Washington, DC, suburb of Springfield, VA (No. 9), have also benefited from their more affordable prices and closer proximity to the bigger cities.
In Worcester, about an hour west of Boston, developers are turning old factory buildings into apartments and condos, new restaurants are coming online, and buyers priced out of Boston are descending.
“The whole city’s really just blowing up,” says Worcester-area real estate agent Nick McNeil, of the Lux Group. The 01602 ZIP code in the Tatnuck area, home to Worcester State University, is one of the area’s more residential districts.
“It’s a lot of single-family houses,” he says. “We see a lot of Tudors, a lot of bungalow-style homes.”
Buyers can scoop up three-bed, 1.5-bath homes in the $300,000 to $350,000 range. But they’d better act fast. Homes are selling in a median 17 days.
“Boston has just become unaffordable, so people are spreading out, traveling to find suitable housing at a reasonable price,” McNeil says.
Buyers are flocking to less expensive parts of the country
Buyers chasing affordability are also discovering cheaper parts of the country that offer lower home prices, costs of living, and even taxes, in some areas. And as more companies allow workers to telecommute going forward, these places, like Rochester, NY (No. 3), and Topeka, KS (No. 6), could see surges in demand.
Smaller cities could also benefit from folks fleeing their small apartments and condos in big cities seeking additional square footage and backyards without losing that urban feel.
“With big cities being expensive, people are looking for areas that are more affordable,” says realtor.com’s Hale.