BAM’s Key Details:
- Zillow ® has crowned its “most popular city in 2022,” highlighting a dramatic shift from the previous year’s predominantly West Coast leaders.
- Midwest and Northeast metros have risen in popularity in tandem with affordability challenges, thanks to a combination of high interest rates, home prices, and inflation.
Zillow has announced its most popular city in 2022: Prairie Village, Kansas.
Midwest and Northeast metros have risen in popularity this year, largely due to affordability challenges. High mortgage rates and home prices, combined with inflation, have put additional strain on household budgets.
So, while West Coast metros dominated the rankings in 2021, most of this year’s standouts are Midwest or Northeast markets.
Prairie Village, Kansas, is Zillow’s Most Popular City in 2022
Prairie Village is an upscale suburban community just minutes from downtown Kansas City. Situated on the Kansas-Missouri state line, it offers a variety of activity-filled parks, trendy shops, and restaurants.
Daily site-leading page views of for-sale listings gave Prairie Village the top ranking for this list as well as for Zillow’s most popular small town.
I think when most people are looking at houses, they are looking at building a home, and that goes beyond the four walls of the structure you live in and expands to the community. Prairie Village offers the trifecta of beautiful homes, a spectrum of accessible price points and great amenities, such as highly rated schools, community events and local shopping.
The Kansas City metro is one of the legions of Midwest markets still seeing strong buyer competition because homes in the area are relatively affordable. Mortgage costs as a percentage of household income and the years needed for renters to save up enough for a down payment are much lower than the national average.
With Prairie Village at the top, here are Zillow®’s top three most popular cities for 2022:
- Prairie Village, Kansas
- Derry, New Hampshire—less than 45 minutes from downtown Boston
- Bon Air, Virginia—near Richmond, with historic Victorian cottages lining its main road
Other Rankings for 2022
- Most popular large city: Grand Rapids, Michigan—Among cities with populations larger than 200,000, Grand Rapids, MI, takes the lead based on page views per listing and relatively affordable homes. Grand Rapids offers a wide selection of breweries and a thriving local foodie scene, putting it on the map for connoisseurs. Occupying second and third place on the list are Richmond, Virginia and Omaha, Nebraska.
- Most popular seaside town: Beverly, Massachusetts—With miles of coastline and easily accessible public parks, Beverly takes the number one spot, with page views and relative affordability giving it an edge over the competition. Taking second and third places are Gloucester, Massachusetts and Newport, Oregon.
- Most popular retirement town: Dunedin, Florida—Located on the Gulf Coast west of Tampa, Dunedin offers local access to waterfront parks and country clubs, along with a sunny and relatively affordable locale. Florida rounds out the top three, with Sarasota and St. Pete Beach taking second and third place.
- Most popular small town: Windham, New Hampshire—Windham, a popular bedroom community outside Boston, ranked highest on Zillow’s index after Prairie Village. Typical home values of $738,574 are higher than those in the Boston metro ($643,642). Hockessin, Delaware takes the number three spot after Windham.
- Most popular college town: Tempe, Arizona— Home to Arizona State University and topping the list for the second year in a row, Tempe has the second-largest total number of rental listings among college towns. It’s also home to one of the largest populations of undergrad and graduate students. Taking second and third places are Smithfield, Rhode Island and Bowling Green, Ohio.
- Most popular vacation town: Lavallette, New Jersey—A popular destination for New Yorkers, Lavallette offers long, sandy beaches; space for bocce, tennis, and rollerblading; and access to crabbing, sailing, and other water sports. Taking second and third place are Indian Rocks Beach, Florida and South Lake Tahoe, California.
The most popular places on Zillow showcase a few trends we’ve noticed over the course of the year — most notably that affordability has become the chief driver of the market. The Midwest and most Northeastern markets saw relatively small run-ups in home values over the course of the pandemic, and now are still affordable enough for residents to shop in.
The share of employees working remote is a factor
The shift from fully remote to hybrid working situations could definitely be a factor influencing home buyers.
But according to Pew Research, while the share of employees working remotely—all or most of the work week—is lower than it was early in the pandemic, it’s still much higher than before the pandemic.
Remote work has boosted the popularity of vacation spots and small towns for second home purchases, especially those within a reasonable commuting distance from larger cities.
Buyers of these homes have a median income of $170,000—well above the median income for those buying primary homes ($79,000). They also skew older than primary home buyers with Gen X and Boomers together representing the majority.
Methodology and definitions behind Zillow® rankings
Zillow® based its rankings on page-view traffic, available housing inventory, home value appreciation, sales data and other housing metrics indicative of consumer demand. Analyzing these for thousands of ZIP codes within the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., they ranked the above markets on their index scoring, using the following definitions:
- Seaside towns—areas where over half the listings used the word “beach,” and excluding those that did not use the word in at least 50 of their listings on Zillow
- Retirement towns—areas where at least a third (33%) of the population is over 65 and has no children or non-spouse relatives living with them
- Vacation towns—areas where more than a third of the housing units are for non-primary use
- College towns—areas where college students make up at least 20% of the population based on 2021 U.S. Census data
Along with census data for 2021, Zillow® used ZIP code-level populations, aggregated to the city level.
Get familiar with the reasons for the rankings
Familiarity with these rankings can come in handy when you’re helping clients find the best places to shop for homes or investment properties, whatever they’re looking for:
- the best place to retire
- the best vacation towns for a second home or an AirBNB property
- the best college towns to invest in a rental property for graduate students
It’s also good to know the reasons behind these rankings, which, as mentioned above, can change from one year to the next. If you know why so many people are flocking to certain vacation towns over others, you’ll be better able to predict how long that popularity will last.
Depending on their reasons for moving, your clients won’t always be interested in the most popular locations. But knowing why some areas have grown in popularity while others have fallen down the list is still information worth knowing.