Caught you looking!
They call it Zillow porn. And yes, viewing a desirable home online delivers a rewarding dopamine hit. But it also feeds our longing to improve our own lot and satisfies (or never quite satisfies) our curiosity to see inside the homes of others. Zillow counted 10.2 billion visits to its house listing site in 2021. Even allowing for multiple homes watched by genuine buyers, that figure reflects a nation of virtual carpet treaders.
And there is a lot more ‘looking’ than ‘doing’ right now. Sales of existing homes dropped by 19% between August 2021-22, while monthly mortgage payments rose by up to 59%. But with post-pandemic prices soaring, sellers have flooded the market — and with supply outstripping demand, prices are starting to cool. Buyers could be about to stop browsing and start spending.
High-interest rates and economic precarity mean that active American buyers will need to make some tough decisions. It could mean tightening the purse strings to make repayments affordable, or it could mean settling for a less desirable neighborhood. But which neighborhoods do we want to move to? HouseFresh analyzed Zillow user patterns to find out.
What we did
HouseFresh collected Zillow sales listings from America’s 100 most populous cities and identified each home’s neighborhood, the number of days listed on Zillow and the number of page views. We then calculated the page views per day for each listing and averaged the number of daily views across each neighborhood.
- Northeast Dallas in Texas is the neighborhood buyers are most interested in, with 36,113 daily views on Zillow.
- Durham’s Warehouse District in North Carolina has just 12 daily views, the least of any neighborhood on Zillow.
- The Upper East Side is New York City’s most desired ‘hood, with 24,125 daily views.
- Central City East is LA’s least desired hood, with just 408 Zillow property views per day.
Northeast Dallas has something for everyone and is America’s most-sought neighborhood
Homebuyer outlook has changed since the pandemic hit. Owners have been thinking about second homes to escape to, bigger suburban houses with room to work from home… or downsizing while they rebuild their careers. This is reflected in Zillow view patterns, where relatively affordable areas stand shoulder to shoulder with more expensive, glamorous neighborhoods.
Homes for sale in Northeast Dallas get the most views by a gap of nearly 4,000 per day. The average price is $465,173, a fraction of that in second-place Hollywood Hills ($2.3m). While LA’s celebrity mecca gets plenty of curiosity clicks, Northeast Dallas can likely attribute its popularity to genuine buyer interest since the market caters well to a wide range of property hunters including families, migrants and singles.
House prices in Durham’s Warehouse District in North Carolina are up 15.9% in a year but remain reasonable (for a trendy area) at $305,830. As a small neighborhood with a lot going on, there are few properties for sale. This may create less of a buzz about buying around here, while local buyers may be looking to live a little more peripheral to the action (particularly during phases of aggressive redevelopment) — altogether bringing down the hits the area gets on Zillow.
Upper East Side property is New York’s most wanted
With homes averaging $1.43m (albeit with a relatively low 6.2% annual rise), it seems safe to assume that many of the 24,125 daily clicks on Manhattan’s Upper East Side properties are aspirational — the former ‘hood’ of Rockefellers, Roosevelts and Kennedys is known for its grand residences. This neighborhood gets over 300 times more attention than New York’s most ignored location: Fordham (79 clicks). However, Fordham is one of the places where the cost of buying is most favorable compared to the cost of renting.
LA’s most-browsed zillow neighborhood is Hollywood Hills
LA’s most-browsed neighborhood has nearly twice the clicks as second-placed Encino (16,736). So, it is likely that many of the 32,216 daily property views on Hollywood Hills pads are from casual internet surfers hoping for a glimpse of how the glitterati live. However, it is a large area with a variety of smaller ‘sub’ neighborhoods, such as the “artsy, creative” Laurel Canyon and rustic Beachwood Canyon.
Lakeview is jewel in Chicago’s crown
Area real estate broker Mike Opyd sings the praises of Chicago as a big city with little prices and neighborhoods that buck the general perception of Chicago life. “You could buy a two-bed, two-bath condo with parking in River North (our version of Manhattan) for around $500,000, which would be impossible in New York City,” says Opyd, while the LGBTQ+-friendly neighborhood of Rogers Park has average prices at $195,000. Picturesque Lakeview gets the most hits on Zillow, although — like many of the most desired spots — it is more expensive than surrounding neighborhoods.
Pecan Park and Kashmere Gardens less desirable than they sound
Despite their dreamy names, Pecan Park and Kashmere Gardens are the Houston neighborhoods in which buyers are least interested. The majority of homes in Pecan Park are rentals, and there is not as much green space as the name suggests. In fact, the area is bordered by interstates on two sides and is also troublingly close to local industrial facilities, raising fears about air quality. Conversely, three-quarters of Kingwood’s residents own their property, and the development has been built around a landscape of varying natural attractions.
Trendy but gentrified Fishtown among Philly’s hot spots
Philadelphia’s hoods get fewer daily clicks than the most popular areas in the other cities we’ve focused on, but the top five still pull in a combined 21,713 daily views. It may sound like a Pixar movie waiting to happen, but Fishtown is touted as “Philly’s truest harbor of artistic, culinary and musical action” and “America’s Hottest New Neighborhood.” Fishtown also has strong travel links, making it an attractive prospect for young professionals — while established residents face the hiked prices and social alienation that comes with a period of gentrification.
When real estate gets realer
Ever wondered how many potential buyers are clicking around your district? We collected Zillow view data for hundreds of U.S. neighborhoods, and you can browse and search them all in the interactive table below.
The desire for safe shelter is a basic survival instinct, but the sequential desire to view ever-weirder and more wonderful homes you have no intention of buying is a very modern neurosis. And it’s an itch that buying your dream home won’t necessarily scratch, as one Guardian columnist’s encounter with a serial Zilllower demonstrates:
“Just to clarify, you bought a house, but you’re still looking at Zillow?” asked the columnist.
“Every day,” came the reply.
We collated the 100 most populous U.S. cities from Wikipedia. Using Zillow, we collected listings of properties for sale in these cities, focusing on houses, townhomes, apartments and condos. In particular, we extracted information from the listings about the neighborhood, the number of days a property is listed on Zillow and the number of property page views. Where the indicated time was measured in hours, we converted this to days by dividing the number of hours by 24.
We then calculated the page views per day for each listing collected and computed the average number of daily views across all property listings in each neighborhood.
We excluded neighborhoods in all rankings that didn’t have at least 10 listings.