The past few years have been brutal on homebuyers’ budgets. Would-be buyers have been priced out of some of the most desirable neighborhoods thanks to rising home prices, paltry home-inventory levels, and, most recently, ever-escalating mortgage rates.
But instead of giving up, buyers are getting creative.
Today’s buyers are on the prowl for communities where they can still afford to become homeowners—and it’s leading them to some smaller markets that may have barely been glimmers in their imaginations just a year or two ago. The Realtor.com® annual list of America’s hottest ZIP codes indicates that the post-pandemic urban escape that became a national obsession in recent years is taking a new shape amid an affordability crisis, and a tenuous return to work normalcy.
No longer in vogue: moving as far from big cities as money will allow in a quixotic quest for mega square footage and better lifestyles. No longer possible: targeting only the best-known (and priciest) suburbs. Instead, buyers now seem intent to split the difference: They want to be in commuting distance of the larger urban areas. They’re focusing on smaller, less expensive neighborhoods where they can own a big house and still be close enough to the bigger cities if they need to go into the office a few days a week or just want a night out on the town.
So where are homebuyers finding affordable home prices, reasonable commutes, and a solid quality of life? The nation’s hottest ZIP codes are generally farther out, less expensive communities where demand is surging and homes are selling the quickest.
“People aren’t giving up on their dream home, but it’s moving even farther away from the big cities, past the suburbs, and into small towns where they can find a home that fits in their budget,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist of Realtor.com.
But as much as things change, they also remain the same. Buyers in 2022 are still interested in homes that are on or near a lake or river; come with horse facilities; have wraparound porches, swimming pools, and hot tubs; or are located in wooded areas, according to Realtor.com data on attributes common to the most viewed properties.
“People are looking for flexibility,” Hale says. While they might not be living in some bustling, urban downtown, they still want to be “close enough that they can get in a couple of times a week if they have to.”
There were no ZIP codes in the western swath of the country that made this year’s list—prices in those regions are just too high. The list is dominated by places in the Northeast, many of them within striking distance of exorbitantly priced Boston.
The hottest ZIP codes list was compiled by looking at housing market demand using Realtor.com listing data from January to June 2022. The economic research team looked at the number of views listings in each ZIP code were receiving on the site and how quickly the homes were selling.
To ensure geographic diversity, the list of top ZIP codes is limited to one ZIP code per metropolitan area. (A metro area includes the main city and surrounding towns, suburbs, and smaller urban areas.)
So what are America’s hottest ZIP codes in 2022?
1. Brighton, NY (Rochester, NY)
ZIP code: 14618
Median home list price: $275,000
Topping this year’s list is Brighton, a classically suburban town on the southeast edge of Rochester. Situated on Lake Ontario, Rochester offers residents beaches, boating, and boardwalks with hundred-year-old carousels. Every August, the Buffalo Bills return to Rochester’s St. John Fisher University for training camp, where locals (and fanatics) can come watch.
But what makes this particular neighborhood stand out in 2022 is the combination of livability and affordability. The area’s median listing price of $275,000 is almost 40% below the national average of $449,000 in July, according to Realtor.com data. But regionally, the value is high, with listing prices in Brighton 27% higher than the larger Rochester area.
The median days to sale here is just six, which is one-sixth the national average.
The location has plenty to offer. It’s just a 10-minute drive to a major hospital, says Bernie Iacovangelo, CEO of the Rochester-based commercial and residential construction company Faber Builders.
Two major highways that go in and out of the area mean it has quick access to other nearby cities. And because the area is largely built out and tightly regulates any teardown/rebuild projects, the classic suburban neighborhood has a stylistic longevity that gives buyers a sense of long-term value.
“That’s what really gives people a sense that if they invest here, the home will hold that value,” Iacovangelo says.
2. Nashua, NH (Manchester)
ZIP code: 03062
Median home list price: $536,000
About 35 miles northwest of Boston, just across the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border, sits Nashua, a city of about 90,000 residents. The proximity to Beantown means driving or public transportation takes about an hour, making it a viable option for commuters, especially those who might not have to be in the office every day.
But because Nashua is in New Hampshire, it also offers potential transplants a chance to save significantly on taxes. New Hampshire has no state income tax and no state sales tax—a steep discount compared with Massachusetts.
“I had a client who was living outside of Boston—a $2.5 million property,” says Pamela Young, an associate broker with eXp Realty in the Manchester-Nashua areas. “He was able to come up here and buy a bigger house on a bigger lot for $1.5 million. So he’s got more privacy, more land, a bigger house, and he’s saving.”
Realtor.com® data reflects these dynamics, with the Boston area accounting for more than one-third of shoppers from out of the area looking at homes in Nashua.
The ZIP code’s home prices also reflect the attention the area’s gotten recently: a 27% increase in median listing price since this time last year.
3. Worthington, OH (Columbus, OH)
ZIP code: 43085
Median home list price: $467,000
The small town of Worthington, just north of Columbus, is the only Midwestern ZIP code on this year’s list. But it packs a punch when it comes to value.
Homes in the suburb are mostly single-family, built, on average, in the late 1970s and featuring large lots and sprawling lawns. With a roughly 20-minute drive to downtown Columbus, the area is well-suited for commuters who might be looking to get out of the dense city center.
Lee Ritchie, a real estate agent at Re/Max Metro Plus in Columbus, says the neighborhood also has a strong feeling of community.
“It’s got a charming historic downtown area, with cafes, pubs, coffee shops, and a farmers market on Saturdays that is very popular,” she says. “It’s got a kind of small-town, Mayberry, USA feel.”
Ritchie says the area benefits from having a wide range of homes and prices.
“People can find a price that works for them here, from $250,000 up to million-dollar homes,” she says.
Median listing prices in this neighborhood have climbed by 25% in the past year.
4. Derry, NH (Manchester, NH)
ZIP code: 03038
Median home list price: $447,000
Derry’s 03038, about 20 minutes north of Manchester and an hour from Boston, is the second of three New Hampshire ZIP codes on this year’s list.
Homes in Derry are about the same price and size as those in Manchester, but the community has a more rural vibe. Some of the currently listed homes are nestled in thick forests, without a neighbor in sight, or situated along the edge of Beaver Lake at the center of the area.
Pamela Young, a Realtor® with eXp in the area, says Derry offers potential buyers a good mix between privacy and seclusion—and a quaint, walkable downtown area with restaurants, breweries, a history museum, and an opera house.
Listings in the ZIP code have been getting more than three times the average views, and homes are sold in about one-quarter of the time.
Derry, Young notes, has a few famous past residents, including Alan Shepard, the first American astronaut to travel to space, and Robert Frost, who wrote some of his famous poems about the area.
5. Windham, ME (Portland, ME)
ZIP code: 04062
Median home list price: $505,000
Just northwest of Portland, nestled against Sebago Lake, sits Windham. The area boasts many of the iconic New England attractions: hiking, fishing, boating, historic covered bridges, and antiques shops. In the winter, Windham residents are less than an hour away from skiing at Shawnee Peak.
Most of the current listings are single-family homes with an average of 1,920 square feet of living space.
The town of 18,000 people experienced the second-largest increase in median listing price of any area on this year’s hottest ZIP codes list.
Even with recent price increases, homes here are, on average, still less expensive than those in the surrounding metro area. For example, the median list price in Portland was $599,500 in July.
Like the other New England hot spots on this year’s list, much of the out-of-market interest in Windham is from Boston, about two hours south.
6. Bethlehem, PA (Allentown, PA)
ZIP code: 18017
Median home list price: $424,000
O little town of Bethlehem, it has seen some big changes over the past year. Most notably, median home prices have skyrocketed, up more than 50%. That’s the biggest price increase on the list.
The 18017 ZIP code is made up of the suburbs on the northeast edge of Bethlehem, which is just east of Allentown. The area has a classic Rust Belt aesthetic, with rolling hills, stone bridges, and tall steel stacks.
Current listings are mostly made up of large, single-family homes, with an average of 2,700 square feet of living space. Buyers looking from New York City, roughly 90 minutes away, and Philadelphia, closer to an hour’s drive, account for one-third of the area’s property views on Realtor.com.
ZIP code: 37604
Median home list price: $329,000
Johnson City is an outlier on this year’s hottest ZIP codes list: It’s not in the Northeast, and it’s not situated within an occasional commute distance to a large city.
Johnson City has largely become an alternative destination for buyers who might feel priced out of nearby real estate hot spot Asheville, NC, which is an artsy mountain town about an hour south.
Asheville has been drawing homebuyers for years, says Karrom Boonsue, the broker/owner of Noble Peak Properties, serving the Kingsport-Johnson City-Bristol tri-city area, mostly because of the area’s rivers, lakes, mountains, and outdoor lifestyle. But the popularity of Asheville, known for its craft beer, eclectic shops, and good restaurants, was on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic, which then pushed the area out of the price range for many people.
“People are seeing that we have all the same outdoor amenities, an hour north,” Boonsue says. “So we’ve become an alternative to that marketplace.”
Boonsue says he’s had clients who are attracted to Tennessee for a variety of reasons, from the lack of an income tax or the NASCAR culture to the central location, relative to other major cities. Johnson City is a three-hour drive to Charlotte, five hours to Atlanta, and six hours to Washington, DC.
“We’ll often get people who think they’ll move to middle-Tennessee, maybe Nashville or Knoxville,” he says. Average prices there are more than $100,000 higher than in Johnson City.
“Then they find the price a little high, so they look here next,” he adds.
8. Hooksett, NH (Concord, NH)
ZIP code: 03106
Median home list price: $482,000
Hooksett, a sparse neighborhood about 20 minutes south of the state capital of Concord, rounds out the “Live Free or Die” state’s hottest ZIP codes. Like the other two New Hampshire hot spots, it’s drawing lots of attention from Boston, but also from Nashua, the No. 2 area on this year’s list.
What sets it apart from the other two, says eXp real estate broker Young, is that Hooksett offers people the most privacy and seclusion. It has the largest lots and the largest homes.
“It’s the most spread out,” Young says. “Where Derry and Nashua have definite downtown areas, Hooksett has a fire department, a town hall, and the school—that’s about it.”
Current listings are mostly large, single-family homes, with an average size topping 2,200 square feet.
“If I were going to move to one of the three,” says Young, who herself lives in a suburb on the opposite side of Manchester, “that’s where I would go. You get more land, a larger home, and more privacy.”
9. North Attleboro, MA (Providence, RI)
ZIP code: 02760
Median home list price: $587,000
Just across the Massachusetts-Rhode Island state line is North Attleboro, MA, a suburb of the larger Providence, RI, metro area. The area is rich with history, as the oldest parts of North Attleboro date to the late 17th century. It was known as a regional hub for jewelry production through the 18th century. The oldest remaining buildings downtown are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The downtown area has seen a revitalization in the past several years, with redevelopment projects that include new, mixed-use, multifamily housing.
The 02760 ZIP code has the highest average listing price on this year’s list, at $587,000, but also the fastest average sale time of any area on the list—just five days. North Attleboro is a little over an hour south of Boston and about 13 miles northwest of Providence.
The current listings here are almost all single-family homes, ranging in size from medium to 4,000 square feet or more.
10. Auburn, ME (Lewiston, ME)
ZIP code: 04210
Median home list price: $267,000
Auburn is about 45 minutes north of Portland, ME, sitting on the west side of the Androscoggin River. For homebuyers looking for an area close to a ski resort, it doesn’t get much closer than Auburn, which is only a 10-minute drive from Lost Valley Ski Area. The town also features a river walk and is home to the Side by Each Brewing Co.
The town, which has 24,000 residents, boasts the lowest median home prices on this year’s list—at 40% below the national average and still 14% below the broader area. Homes in Auburn are the oldest and smallest of the ZIP codes on this year’s list. The current listings average 1,600 square feet, and more than one-third were built before 1940.
Following the trend for this year, Auburn has seen outsized out-of-market interest from people in Portland, where prices are around $80,000 more, and, yes, Boston, which has some of the priciest real estate in the region.
The post Beyond the Burbs: These Are America’s Hottest ZIP Codes in 2022 appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.