Best Kept Secrets in America’s Hottest Housing Markets

It’s one thing to search a city for listings, it’s another to know that city inside and out. A home is more than just a building, it’s a neighborhood and part of a community. What are the hidden gems that locals know best, that outsiders don’t know to look for?

The short answer: it’s the ‘burbs.

When it comes to home searches, it turns out locals are keeping secrets. We examined our search data for some of America’s hottest housing markets. We took local searches and compared them to out-of-town searches. The result? We found locals were more likely to search suburbs missed by out-of-towners.

Back to the ‘Burbs

We identified the five most locally searched zip codes in 10 of America’s hottest housing markets. While out-of-town searchers focus more on places that are either well known or discussed most online, locals have hidden-away spots overlooked by non-locals.

When compared to out-of-town search destinations, the suburbs are consistently the most popular areas for locals. While outsiders ooh and aah over big city downtowns, locals are more likely to want to stay in the ‘burbs, or move away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

  • Local Rules: Nationally, 60% of all home searches originate from the same metro.
  • Don’t Crowd Me: 70% of the top locally searched zip codes are less crowded by people than the average density of the metro they were in – a classic tell the neighborhoods are more suburban.
  • Minivans over Buses: None of the top locally searched zip codes in Washington, Atlanta, or Chicago were dense urban neighborhoods.
  • Highrise Haven: The sole exception to the suburban trend is Miami. Locals there search more urban neighborhoods within the city such as Hialeah Gardens.

Chicago Is the Top For Local Searches By Locals

Who loves Chicago? Chicagoans. Four out of five home searches in the market originate from within metro, or what locals call Chicagoland. This could be from intense local interest, but it’s also possible this number comes from a lack of outside interest in Chicago. Between 2011 and 2015, Chicago’s population has only grown by 1.2%, the 17th slowest growth of America’s top 100 largest housing markets. Chicago is America’s third largest housing market, so Chicago’s slow growth may be indicative of a negative trend for Chicago as a whole, along with Chicago’s 5.3% unemployment rate, the 13th highest in the U.S.

Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL
Median Metro Home Value:  $217,500
Median Metro Population Density:  4,955 People per Square Mile
Zip code Neighborhood Local Searches as a Share of All Searches Median Home Value Population

Density Difference from Metro Median

60451 New Lenox 88.7%  $266,126 -72.5%
60448 Mokena 88.7%  $277,147 -71.8%
60491 Homer Glen 88.6%  $317,669 -82.2%
60463 Palos Heights 88.5%  $239,224 -45.8%
60441 Lockport 88.2%  $191,275 -74.3%

New York’s Close-In ‘Burbs

America’s biggest housing market, it’s no surprise locals want to search for homes in the Big Apple. New York is the fourth-most locally searched market in the U.S., at 76% of all searches. New York’s hippest neighborhoods – Williamsburg in Brooklyn, N.Y., Chelsea in Manhattan – are some of the most urban neighborhoods in the U.S. But when it came to places where locals searched and outsiders missed, suburban neighborhoods close-in to Manhattan ranked highest. Westchester County and the Hudson Valley ranked high in our results.

New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ
Median Metro Home Value:  $419,066
Median Metro Population Density:  17,675 People per Square Mile
Zip code Neighborhood Local Searches as a Share of All Searches Median Home Value Population

Density Difference from Metro Median

10475 Eastchester 88.4%  $373,556 44.2%
10710 Colonial Heights/Bronxville 88.3%  $466,869 -65.9%
10703 Yonkers 88.0%  $397,337 -33.0%
10308 Great Kills 87.9%  $468,428 -14.6%
10983 Tappan 87.7%  $434,480 -84.3%

Atlanta: Beyond Decatur and Buckhead

Coming in right behind New York as the 5th most locally searched metro in the U.S., Atlanta is the least dense of the 10 markets we focused on. With 931 people per square mile, Atlanta is a city of suburbs with a small but vibrant central city. While Atlanta’s central neighborhoods are popular for outsiders looking to move to Atlanta, it’s Atlanta’s satellite cities, like Bremen, Whitesburg, and Carrolton that are most attractive to locals – and the places outsiders are likely to miss.

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
Median Metro Home Value:  $183,869
Median Metro Population Density:  931 People per Square Mile
Zip code Neighborhood Local Searches as a Share of All Searches Median Home Value Population

Density Difference from Metro Median

30185 Whitesburg 86.0%  $104,042 -93.4%
30137 Emerson 85.4%  $123,235 -60.2%
30170 Roopville 85.3%  $114,833 -92.2%
30110 Bremen 84.7%  $100,700 -80.1%
30117 Carrolton 84.7%  $114,515 -65.5%

Beyond the City Limits in Austin

Austin is the fastest growing market in the nation, with a staggering 12.2% population growth. It has a relatively small proportion of local searches, at only 51.8% of all searches in the market, which suggests a lot of out-of-town interest. When it comes to search interest by Austinites, three less dense – or more suburban – neighborhoods are at the top. About 34 miles outside of Austin, the city of Taylor ranks high. One possible reason: Median home prices are $115,000 cheaper than the market median.

Austin-Round Rock, TX
Median Metro Home Value:  $283,814
Median Metro Population Density:  1,291 People per Square Mile
Zip code Neighborhood Local Searches as a Share of All Searches Median Home Value Population

Density Difference from Metro Median

78613 Cedar Park 60.1%  $285,389 102.6%
76574 Taylor 59.6%  $169,566 -90.1%
78660 Pflugerville 59.2%  $234,458 35.2%
76578 Thrall 58.8%  $198,219 -98.6%
78652 Manchaca 58.7%  $310,424 -76.0%

For Seattle Secrets, Look North

The Seattle housing market is among the nation’s hottest, in part because it has a 6.94% annual growth rate. While Seattle’s most renowned neighborhoods may be trendy, they’re trendy and expensive. All of the hip neighborhoods in Seattle are at least $100,000 more than the market median, with Capitol Hill being $500,000 above the median. Seattle natives seem to know how to be trendy and frugal; the most searched local neighborhoods ignored by outsiders are below market median, and two neighborhoods, Mountlake Terrace and Marysville, both to the north of Seattle, carry listing prices that are more than $100,000 less expensive than the average Seattle home.

Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA
Median Metro Home Value:  $502,739
Median Metro Population Density:  3,460 People per Square Mile
Zip code Neighborhood Local Searches as a Share of All Searches Median Home Value Population

Density Difference from Metro Median

98037 North Lynnwood 77.9%  $438,418 80.0%
98043 Mountlake Terrace 77.3%  $385,539 86.7%
98036 Alderwood Manor 77.1%  $446,589 47.5%
98087 Lynnwood 76.7%  $411,227 130.4%
98270 Marysville 74.8%  $326,491 23.9%

Hialeah Is Hot for Miami Locals

Both a retirement destination and vacation destination, many of Florida’s markets aren’t local hotspots. Four Florida metros rank at the bottom for local searches. Miami is an exception. Locals tend to stay local. Another exception: local searches in Miami are more urban than suburban. In fact, the top locally searched area – and the one that is relatively least searched by outsiders – is Hialeah.  This neighborhood, just west of popular Miami Beach, is cheaper than the metro average and unlike local destinations in other markets, mostly urban.

Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL
Median Metro Home Value:  $275,747
Median Metro Population Density:  4,512 People per Square Mile
Zip code Neighborhood Percentage of Local Searches Median Home Value Population

Density Difference from Metro Median

33013 Hialeah 71.1%  $261,042 98.8%
33010 Hialeah Park 70.6%  $242,739 137.8%
33012 Hialeah Gardens 70.1%  $183,511 188.2%
33189 Cutler Bay 69.1%  $252,586 3.2%
33165 University Park 68.9%  $340,354 66.5%

Head South of San Francisco

If you’re looking to live in San Francisco, those housing prices might be painful to see. As one of the most expensive markets in the country, the plethora of jobs in San Francisco, which has an unemployment rate of 3%, the fourth-lowest in the country, demand for homes is at record highs. Locals, as opposed to outsiders, look more to places such as South San Francisco, which may offer relatively less painful prices and good neighborhoods. All of South San Francisco, as well as nearby Daly City, Brisbane, and San Bruno, are the hidden local gems, according to the data. Popular among locals, these neighborhoods offer median listing prices roughly $300,000 cheaper than the metro median.

San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA
Median Metro Home Value:  $1,192,206
Median Metro Population Density:  10,238 People per Square Mile
Zip code Neighborhood Local Searches as a Share of All Searches Median Home Value Population

Density Difference from Metro Median

94080 South San Francisco 61.7%  $873,010 -36.9%
94066 San Bruno 61.1%  $938,667 -32.2%
94005 Brisbane 60.8%  $864,029 -90.0%
94015 Westlake 60.5%  $888,007 8.9%
94014 Daly City 60.4%  $811,464 -24.6%

L.A.’s Angel Neighborhoods Are In San Fernando and Northridge

Los Angeles may be home to some glamorous neighborhoods, but they’re also expensive neighborhoods. The median values for these neighborhoods are about $250,000 more than L.A.’s already pricey median home value. If you want cheaper neighborhoods the locals love, look north of L.A. San Fernando and Northridge are neighborhoods, among others, that are popular with L.A. natives and missed by outsiders.

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA
Median Metro Home Value:  $555,956
Median Metro Population Density:  4,759 People per Square Mile
Zip code Neighborhood Local Searches as a Share of All Searches Median Home Value Population

Density Difference from Metro Median

91020 Montrose 84.8%  $668,314 135.8%
91040 Sunland 84.2%  $565,853 -48.8%
91042 Tujunga 84.0%  $577,675 -88.5%
91344 Granada Hills 83.6%  $591,904 -30.1%
91342 Sylmar 83.5%  $467,082 -64.4%

Boston’s Best Are on the Road to Brockton

While Boston’s trendiest neighborhoods can reach up to $400,000 above the market median, locals know where to find the affordable neighborhoods. If you’re looking for a more affordable place to live, and popular among the locals, look for the neighborhoods and towns between Brockton and the Interstate 3. This area, including the towns of Hanover, Rockland, Hansom, Abington and Pembroke are all extremely popular for locals, missed by out-of-towners and almost all below the market’s median home price.

Boston, MA
Median Metro Home Value:  $428,953
Median Metro Population Density:  5,277 People per Square Mile
Zip code Neighborhood Local Searches as a Share of All Searches Median Home Value Population

Density Difference from Metro Median

2341 Hanson 72.5%  $369,474 -86.9%
2339 Hanover 71.8%  $472,623 -82.7%
2359 Pembroke 71.5%  $374,569 -84.3%
2351 Abington 71.1%  $327,435 -68.4%
2370 Rockland 71.0%  $297,779 -67.5%

Virginia is For Washingtonians

Virginia suburbs are the most overlooked by outside searchers. Like our other hot housing markets, suburban is in with the locals. An unusual twist in Washington is that some of the more famous urban neighborhoods, such as Logan Circle and Dupont Circle, are relatively cheap for being in the heart of the city, with Dupont Circle matching the metro’s median home price. All but one of the suburban neighborhoods overlooked by outsiders are more expensive. Some advice for any homebuyer in the market: it may pay to move fast for any neighborhood. Washington is the 10th fastest growing area in the country with 7.6% annual population growth, so there’s plenty of people eager to grab the best homes.

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
Median Metro Home Value:  $378022
Median Metro Population Density:  3,460 People per Square Mile
Zip code Neighborhood Local Searches as a Share of All Searches Median Home Value Population

Density Difference from Metro Median

20121 Uniontown 75.5%  $356,095 -0.2%
20181 Nokesville 74.8%  $439,893 -96.1%
22039 Fairfax Station 74.7%  $763,783 -77.8%
20120 Centreville 74.6%  $442,302 -30.7%
20124 Clifton 74.2%  $647,021 -78.8%

Methodology

We used Trulia search data between July 2016 and July 2017 to calculate the proportion of searches in a metro area that originated from within that same metro area to calculate the proportion of local searches. The proportion of local searches is the ratio of searches in an area originating from the same metro area to total searches in the area. Zip codes were used as a proxy for neighborhoods, and matched to whatever largest neighborhood or town in the zip code was. As these are not perfect boundary matches, there can be some deviation between these values and the full neighborhoods. Population growth was calculated using the difference in population between the 2011 and 2015 U.S. Census. Population Density is the total number of people living in a geographic area, divided by its land area. Census population values were used for these calculations. Trulia uses the Census defined metropolitan divisions where available; otherwise, we follow the metropolitan statistical area definitions.