Shawnee Mayor Michelle Distler often has viewed her city’s attractive homes, walkable downtown and abundant green space as a well-kept secret.
But now the secret’s out.
For the first time, a piece of this Johnson County suburb is ranked as one of the country’s “hottest ZIP codes” by realtor.com, a national real estate website. The neighborhood along Nieman Road and Johnson Drive — and its accompanying 66203 ZIP code — came in fourth in the nation.
Young home buyers are flocking there because of its affordable housing stock, revitalized downtown and alluring amenities, the website said. Shawnee also ranked in the top five because homes sell in an average of 13 days — 44 days faster than the national average, according to the report — with millennials buying the biggest chunk of new mortgages.
“I’m actually not surprised by it at all,” Distler said. “Shawnee is known for that small town, community feel. People want to raise their families here, and we’ve always been very affordable compared to the surrounding areas.”
Realtor.com came up with its list by comparing 16,000 ZIP codes from January through June, seeing which markets received the most page views on realtor.com and listed homes for the shortest period of time.
Researches also examined median home list prices, mortgage statistics, employment numbers, population growth figures, household incomes and demographics. To be included in the report, ZIP codes needed at least 12 listings per month.
Only the top ZIP code from each metro area was included. Last year, Overland Park’s 66210 ZIP code, along College Boulevard between Metcalf Avenue and Pfumm Road, ranked eighth on the list.
Authors of the report claim this year’s rankings show droves of young home buyers are leaving big cities for suburbs, taking advantage of affordable Midwest metros as housing prices continue to rise. Along with Shawnee, the top five markets included: Omaha; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Boise, Idaho; and Rochester, New York.
Homes in the Shawnee ZIP code sell for a median listing price of $220,050, which is up 16.4% compared to last year, realtor.com reported. Millennials accounted for 43% of new mortgage purchases last year.
“I’ve lived in Shawnee for 20 years, and it’s definitely the quality of life,” said Shannon Doser, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty Partners. “We can get almost anywhere within 30 minutes. We’re right up there with affordability. The cost per square foot is less than it would be in south Johnson County. And our schools are consistently top rated.”
Shawnee also earned high marks for its downtown featuring local restaurants, shops and a couple of new breweries.
“That’s why Old Shawnee is starting to pop,” Doser said.
And the area continues to grow. Spokesman Dustin Wolfe, with the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce, said Kansas City staple McLain’s Market recently announced plans to open in downtown Shawnee, for example.
The 66203 ZIP code also sits within a Federal Opportunity Zone, he added. In general, those zones provide tax benefits to investors building in census tracts where the poverty rate is 20%.