Real estate agents are seeing indications that some families are being drawn back toward the city’s older “streetcar” and first ring suburbs. While families don’t necessarily want to get back within the city limits, Perrin March of Coldwell Banker West Shell says the trend is definitely shifting back toward downtown. “Hyde Park and Mt. Lookout will always trend heavily for families,” he says. But home prices for a four-bedroom, three-bath family home in both places can be prohibitive. There is one tiny neighborhood on the city’s north side that offers proximity to downtown plus decent-sized homes for a good price, says Keller Williams agent Susan Rissover: Amberley Village.
“People who live here say they can get anywhere they need to go within 15-20 minutes,” says Vice Mayor Natalie Wolf, noting the Village’s proximity to I-75, I-71, and Cross County Highway. Part of the Cincinnati Public School district, the Village doesn’t have the same across-the-board stellar schools as neighboring Blue Ash, but magnet schools like SCPA and Walnut Hills “have always been a huge draw,” says Rissover. Amberley home prices are slightly lower than those in Hyde Park and Mt. Lookout ($313,000 on average, compared to $385,000 and $379,000, respectively, according to MLS data). When you consider that buyers generally get more house for their money, and many homes sit on wooded, one-acre lots (“We feel like we’re in the country even though we actually aren’t,” says Wolf), it makes Amberley worth a look. One agent even did a mailbox blitz in search of unlisted sellers for his buyers. Why the sudden interest? “[People are] realizing, maybe, that the traffic in the suburbs isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” says Rissover.
“Money Magazine last year said Mason is the seventh best place in the nation to live,” says March. Mason has managed to maintain its stronghold on growing families by installing sidewalks to connect subdivisions. It’s a “big push to create that community feel,” says Betsy Kiley of Sibcy Cline.
With great schools (Sycamore High School is ranked 23rd in the state by U.S. News and World Report) and abundant amenities, Blue Ash is hard to beat. The icing on the cake, says Kiley? The fact that it’s inside the I-275 beltway. “The buying population is saying: ‘I don’t want to be on the road for an hour getting home!’ That compromises family time.”