After a long lull in activity, the Naperville housing market appears to be back on the upswing. Nothing like it was during the relocation frenzy-filled heyday, but front yards dotted with for-sale signs perched with sold on top are familiar again.
There is no doubt, “Naperville has an awful lot to offer,” said Laura Ortoleva, with RE/MAX Northern Illinois.
Great schools and libraries, fun downtown dining and shopping, and leisure opportunities are just a few amenities that come to mind.
Two convenient Metra train stations might be another reason homeowners choose Naperville. It also might be one factor leading to an increase in home prices.
After suffering through a difficult period when the Metra board stumbled over itself, and commuter reliability was reduced, this is good news for both Metra and the local real estate market.
A 2013 Metra Communities Study by RE/Max found communities with Metra service are seeing greater gains in median home prices compared to suburbs without train service.
Between 2012 and 2013, the study showed gains of 5.6 percent in median home prices in the 116 Metra-served communities, compared with a 2.3 percent increase in suburbs without Metra service. The median home price in Metra-served communities grew to $170,000 as of June, while suburbs without Metra service median home price increased to $148,000.
In addition, about one-third (8,156 sales of 24,556) of all home sales in Metra communities were concentrated along two lines — the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line, which serves Naperville and Aurora, and the Union Pacific Northwest line, which serves Park Ridge, Des Plaines, Crystal Lake and McHenry.
“Proximity to the train station was pretty much the No. 1 criteria in our house-buying decision for our last two homes,” Naperville resident Stephanie Siska said. “The only two homes we purchased in Naperville have been within a 2 to 2-1/2 mile radius to the Naperville train station, and that has been by design.”
She said they didn’t even consider homes outside that area.
A chance meeting with their future real estate agent, RE/Max’s Rosemary Macko Wisnosky, at the National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, eventually led Siska and husband Juraj, formerly of Des Moines, Iowa, to relocate in Naperville in 2001.
Naperville also came high on the Siska’s list because of the number of express trains departing from the Naperville station each day.
“In terms of trains going in and out, Naperville has more express trains than other suburbs that are closer in proximity to downtown Chicago,” she said.
The couple first lived west of Washington Street and subsequently relocated to a larger home east of Washington Street, Siska said.
Juraj Siska typically rides his bike to either the Naperville train station or to the couple’s IT-consulting company, IdeaNova Technologies on Maple Avenue.
Relocating from Houston with a family of eight, Steve Herzberg considered several western suburbs ranging from Hinsdale to Naperville for their new home.
Herzberg, who commutes to United Airlines’ downtown headquarters, compared suburbs based on how long the commute was to and from the city via the train, the frequency of express trains, and the distance from his home to the train station.
“I think most people moving to the Chicago area that work in the Loop would have a similar list,” Herzberg said. “However, I think affordable housing along with excellent schools in a community with great amenities were more important factors in our decision to move to Naperville.”
And I am sure most families new to Naperville would concur.