When you’re looking for the new hot spots, you want to follow the young people. And true to form, millennials are leading the charge in the American neighborhoods that are seeing the most real-estate action this year.
Here at realtor.com®, we regularly report on the hottest markets for buyers and sellers. And once a year, we zoom in even further, to focus on the neighborhoods where homes are flying off the market and listing views get constant clicks. That’s how we arrive at our list of the hottest ZIP codes in America.
So what’s hot? Suburbs. In ever-increasing numbers, millennials are fleeing downtown and heading for the nearby towns, especially around Silicon Valley and throughout the Midwest and East Coast. That youth wave is driving a nearly 10% increase in how fast homes are selling in those areas.
It turns out the classic selling points of the burbs—more space, good schools—grow more appealing as young people start families and their priorities shift.
“The higher-earning millennials in particular feel increasingly confident,” says Jason Dorsey, president of the Austin, TX–based Center for Generational Kinetics, pointing out that those who weathered the Great Recession are generally now in a good place in their careers. Sure, they may have student debt, but it’s more likely to be under control. So they’re ready to invest in a home.
“When it comes to choosing a home of their own, millennials are looking for opportunity and they’re finding it in affordable suburbs,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com, in a statement.
The homes in the top markets on our list are relatively affordable, with a median price of $358,000—typically, more affordable than in their surrounding area. That makes them a good choice for starter homes.
So where are these hot hoods? Read on to find out. (You can also see the full list of 50.)
Median listing price: $193,168
A median-priced four-bedroom home in Kentwood
This area is known for its tree-lined streets, close-knit community, and quick commute to Grand Rapids, which we’ve previously identified as an up-and-coming urban powerhouse. It’s also just 30 miles from beautiful Lake Michigan, for those weekend getaways.
But above all, affordability is the key draw for Kentwood, says Trisha Cornelius, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in Grand Rapids.
“Kentwood is where you go if you want a dog and a yard,” she says.
This ZIP code, in particular, is known for its strong schools, which attract families. She’s also seen graduates and retirees moving in.
“It wasn’t always this way in Kentwood,” Cornelius says. “At one time there was an overwhelming number of condos and apartments. Kentwood was more of a transitional neighborhood you live in before moving on to something better. But not anymore. It’s really grown and is a stable place to live.”
Median listing price: $297,811
A charming three-bedroom, two-bath home for less than $200K.
A haven for nature lovers, Colorado Springs sits on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains and boasts gorgeous views and sunny weather. Denver is just 70 miles away, but Colorado Springs’ economy is doing just fine on its own, with tech startups and the Air Force Academy and UC Memorial Hospital North in the vicinity. (We had already predicted the city to be one of the hottest markets of 2018, late last year.)
“People are choosing Colorado Springs over Boulder and Denver because those cities are really, really expensive,” says Susanna Haynie, broker and owner of Colorado Real Estate Group in Colorado Springs.
“The east side [where ZIP code 80922 is located] is where the families are moving in,” Haynie adds. “That’s where you can get a bang for your buck and all the amenities a family would want: pools, big backyards, you name it.”
But the secret is definitely out—it’s a seller’s market, with a major shortage of homes for sale and rent.
“There’s a high buyer demand, and this is going to have a huge effect over the next 12 months,” Haynie says.
Median listing price: $183,576
Three bedrooms in the third hottest market for $180K? Watauga deal!
Over the past few years we’ve become familiar with the charms of Watauga, the Fort Worth suburb that topped our hottest ZIPs in 2017 and 2016. It slipped a couple of spots this year, but it’s still going strong. The small town may not be exciting, but with easy access to jobs, shopping, and entertainment in Fort Worth, Watauga appeals to young families who are looking for more space and top-notch schools.
“You can get a great house at an incredible value and get more for your money,” says Megan Phelps, a real estate agent with Re/Max Heritage in Fort Worth. “Location and price are what’s driving growth.”
Buyers in Watauga are primarily millennials—they make up 33% of new purchase mortgages in this ZIP code. They also have a 65% homeownership rate here.
Median listing price: $784,238
The San Francisco Bay Area real estate market is ultrahot—some would say overheated—but quiet Castro Valley offers a pocket of relative affordability, with homes that cost 5% less than in the rest of the country and 17% less than in the broader metro area.
Affordability, an excellent school system, and easy rail access to San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley make this area especially appealing to young professionals. So it’s no wonder that millennials make up 38% of new purchase mortgages in this ZIP code, although the dominant age group among buyers remains a little older, at 35 to 44.
Median listing price: $424,685
Settled in 1626 by a small group of English colonists, Peabody, just 15 miles northeast of Boston, has a rich history. Formerly a major center of New England’s leather industry, it now has Analogic Corp. and Tradewin Consulting Services as its biggest employers. The small but vibrant community boasts top-rated schools. Although 35- to 44-year-olds obtain the majority of purchase mortgages in this ZIP code, millennials have 32%. And with a median household income of $73,312, millennials here earn more than the typical household.
Rounding out the top 10 are: