Be close to the action without spending a fortune. (Getty Images)
From Long Beach to Valencia, Santa Monica to Pasadena, the Los Angeles metro area comprises dozens of unique neighborhoods, each of them offering their own array of dining, entertainment and housing options.
Although it’s hard to find any truly hidden gems in Los Angeles, there are still a few up-and-coming neighborhoods where young, first-time buyers can be close to the action without spending a fortune. To help identify these parts of the metro area, we spoke with some of the top real estate agents in Los Angeles. Here's where they recommend looking for your next home.
Inglewood. In the city of Los Angeles, it’s hard to find a neighborhood of which savvy buyers aren’t yet aware. “Everyone’s looking everywhere, and so much of the city is already very pricey,” says Richard Schulman of Keller Williams Realty. But a place that’s getting a lot of attention right now – especially from buyers looking for a deal – is Inglewood.
Inglewood’s location near the 405 and 105 freeways and the major thoroughfares of La Cienega and La Brea boulevards makes it convenient to almost everything on the west side of Los Angeles, including the airport. Meanwhile, L.A. Metro's new Crenshaw/LAX line will connect Inglewood to areas further north and east when it opens in 2019. Inglewood is also the future home of the city’s new NFL team, the Rams. However, “Inglewood is still a little behind the curve," Schulman notes. "Commercial gentrification is nearby, but not quite there yet.”
Smaller single-family homes can be purchased in the mid-$400,000 range, which is significantly less than the average price in the city. But Schulman advises buyers to consider their priorities before making a decision.
“Buyers have to decide where they fall on the gentrification scale," he says. "If you buy in an area like Inglewood, with a lot of un-remodeled homes and a lack of new construction, it’s going to be cheaper right now. But do you really want to live there yet?”
Wrigley. Located north of downtown Long Beach, the neighborhood of Wrigley has seen a lot of ups and downs. It was one of the many neighborhoods to tumble during the mortgage crisis, and one of the last ones to come back. But during the last 12 months, Long Beach real estate agent Jeff Anderson, with Anderson Real Estate Group, has seen a tremendous revival. “Every time we have a listing there, it’s gone in just a few days,” he says.
Wrigley is made up of Spanish-style single-family homes built in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. One section has even been designated a historic district. Buyers are drawn to the charming character of these homes and the area's social, tight-knit community. “A lot of first-time homebuyers who are looking for older, charming homes with a lot of character are buying these houses,” says Anderson.
Home prices in Wrigley are in the low- to mid-$500,000 range, which is higher than some nearby neighborhoods, but pretty reasonable for the greater Los Angeles metro area. Though Wrigley lacks some of the commercial amenities of other Long Beach districts, Anderson is confident that businesses will start moving in soon. “So far, it’s just some mom-and-pop businesses and everyday fast food, but once the retail is more established, the area will be unbelievable,” he predicts.
Cypress Park. Neighborhoods close to downtown Los Angeles are benefiting from the adaptive reuse and new development that’s taken place over the past 15 years. Recently, northeast neighborhoods like Highland Park, Atwater Village and El Sereno, once considered “too far” from commercial centers, have become the trendiest places to lay down roots. With this hive of activity on the Eastside, what’s left to discover?
Tracy Do, of Tracy Do Real Estate and Compass, suggests Cypress Park. “It’s the closest to where buyers want to be, but still at a discount,” she says.
Located at the foot of Mount Washington, Cypress Park offers easy access to trendy commercial thoroughfares like York, Eagle Rock and Glendale boulevards, although it lacks its own dense business district as of now. The early 20th century Craftsman- and Spanish-style homes attract young professionals and first-time buyers who can afford something in the $500,000 to $600,000 range, which is is more affordable than homes found in more established Eastside neighborhoods.
City Terrace. Do also recommends City Terrace, a hillside neighborhood close to East Los Angeles, where buyers will find two- to three-bedroom homes in the $300,000 to $400,000 range.
“[City Terrace is] only 10 minutes from downtown, and you’ve got beautiful views,” Do says. The neighborhood is attracting a lot of young buyers who want to step into the market at a price point significantly less than the average.
But City Terrace lacks the restaurants and shops many buyers seek. But City Terrace is a quick commute to thriving commercial areas in South Pasadena, Alhambra and El Sereno. The closest neighborhood, El Sereno, has been the latest eastern neighborhood to experience a renaissance, with hip coffee shops and restaurants moving into spaces on Huntington Drive.
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