It’s time for families to sit together by the fireplace, hang stockings on the mantel, and wait for Santa to come down the chimney on Christmas Eve. (Of course, lots of people, myself included, don’t celebrate Christmas. Last holiday season we mapped where Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists live.) In the spirit of helping house-hunters maximize their chances of a future visit from Santa, we decided to ask a very important question: Where are homes best equipped for Christmas? To find out, we scoured real estate listings on Trulia from January 2011 to June 2013 for mentions of fireplaces and chimneys.

As it turns out, fireplaces aren’t just for homes in cold places. The #1 and #3 metros for fireplaces are in southern California: Orange County and Ventura County. Neighboring Los Angeles comes in at #13 among the 100 largest markets. Three Boston-area metros – Peabody, Middlesex County, and Boston itself — are also among the top 10 for fireplaces: 

Where to Cozy Up and Hang Stockings: Homes with Fireplaces

# U.S. Metro For-sale listings mentioning fireplaces, per 100 listings
1 Orange County, CA

6.7

2 Colorado Springs, CO

6.4

3 Ventura County, CA

6.0

4 Cleveland, OH

5.6

5 Peabody, MA

5.5

6 Fairfield County, CT

5.4

7 Middlesex County, MA

5.2

8 Louisville, KY-IN

5.1

9 St. Louis, MO-IL

5.0

10 Boston, MA

4.9

Nowadays, lots of homes with fireplaces lack chimneys. Fireplaces in newer homes often vent without a chimney or don’t need to vent at all. In fact, the metros with the most fireplaces aren’t the metros with the most chimneys. But chimneys – not just fireplaces — are what Santa needs. Where can he find them? In the Northeast and Midwest. The top metros for chimneys are Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Dayton, but not the fireplace-rich metros of southern California:

Where Santa Can Visit: Homes with Chimneys

# U.S. Metro For-sale listings mentioning chimneys, per 1,000 listings
1 Buffalo, NY

3.9

2 Philadelphia, PA

3.5

3 Dayton, OH

3.4

4 Springfield, MA

2.9

5 Hartford, CT

2.7

6 Rochester, NY

2.5

7 Peabody, MA

2.4

8 Worcester, MA

2.4

9 Allentown, PA-NJ

2.4

10 Richmond, VA

2.0


Santa’s favorite metros – those where the homes are most likely to have chimneys – tend to be cold; his favorite metros also tend to be old. Chimneys are very rare in newly built homes, even though fireplaces are most common in for-sale homes built in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s:

Trulia_ChimneyVsFireplace1

The punchline: if you’re looking for a ho-ho-home that welcomes Santa, your best bets for a home with a chimney are in colder, older metros. Merry Christmas!

Note: fireplaces are an amenity, whereas chimneys aren’t often a selling point (Santa notwithstanding), so we suspect fireplaces are more likely to be called out in a listing than chimneys are. That’s why we didn’t use these data to estimate the share of homes with fireplaces that also have chimneys.