The Big Boom

Kansas City real estate has exploded in the past two years. 

Here are 11 neighborhoods that have blown up the biggest, according to the data.

By Martin Cizmar and Mary Henn

Photography Caleb Condit, Rebecca Norden, Jeremey Theron Kirby

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Two years ago, right around this time, the real estate market was at a standstill. The pandemic had just begun, and widespread uncertainty briefly—very briefly—brought the housing market to a halt.

That lasted a matter of days, says Jo Grammond, a buyer’s agent with Kansas City’s Redfin office.

“For about two weeks it got real quiet,” Grammond says. “Before you know it, we were just super busy with people wanting to buy again. Then, with interest rates having dropped, it just became prime time, and it hasn’t slowed down since then.”

Not only has it not slowed down—it’s arguably accelerated. “Right now, there’s even less inventory than there was in 2020, at the height of it, when everybody was like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s no inventory,’” she says. “There’s no area that’s safe in the Kansas City metro.”

Grammond says, and Redfin’s data shows, there are now multiple offers on any property that goes on the market, regardless of location. That’s made for an ultra-competitive climate, where prices are exploding in areas traditionally considered the most desirable and where desperate buyers are looking for homes in areas they’d never pictured themselves living.

For this story, we wanted to look at the areas where there’s been the biggest boom. The data team at Redfin maintains a list of the hottest zip codes in the country based on the speed of sale, increase in price and other factors. We worked with Taylor Marr, Redfin’s deputy chief economist, to crunch the numbers and weigh the formula for our local market. To make our final list, we removed all zip codes where the average prices were below the metro’s median price of $260,000 and have combined several areas where zip codes share borders and similarities.

Most of the neighborhoods seeing the biggest booms are not among the twenty wealthiest in the metro area, but they’re often bordered by one or more that are. That includes the zip code that our data put at the top of the list, which is surrounded on three sides by top-twenty zips but isn’t itself among them.

In some ways, the Kansas City market has not changed that much. Schools are king, Grammond says: “The areas where we’re seeing the highest offers and the largest offers above the listing price are still driven by school districts.”

But in an era of exploding home prices, how that’s shaken out has been interesting. Here’s what the data show. 

NUMBER 11

Old Leawood | 66206

This zip code covers the areas typically called “Old Leawood,” which are north of I-435 between State Line Road and Mission Drive. This zip code is the seventh-richest in the metro area, with an adjusted gross income of $201,000. It borders the wealthiest zip in the metro—South Leawood’s 66211, where the AGI is more than $150,000 higher than anywhere else in KC.

The area is mostly leafy, mid-century neighborhoods with large lots, some a half-acre. The typical home is a ranch that offers what real estate agents now call “main level living”—no stairs to climb to the bedroom, which appeals to those aging in place.

It’s been a popular area with people moving to the city, says Brooke Miller, an agent with ReeceNichols. 

“People are desperate because of the pandemic,” Miller says. “There are a lot of people who have moved back to Kansas City, and there are more buyers than there are houses. People like the large lots, the nice houses and the family atmosphere.”

Modest homes on those sought-after lots also attract people who want a new build inside the 435 loop. “You also have a lot of people buying older homes with great lots and they’re tearing them down,” Miller says. “That’s happening like a madhouse over there.”

Why it’s hot

The areas of northern Johnson County along State Line Road (66205, 66208, 66209) all scored high on the metrics provided by Redfin. Miller says that reflects the desire for people to have access to both Johnson County schools—this zip code is divided between Shawnee Mission East and South zones—and the cultural amenities, restaurants and bars on the Missouri side. Plus, it’s easy to hop on I-435 and get anywhere in the metro area.

“It’s a great location, great school district, and close to restaurants, grocery stores, pools,” she says. “You have all of that. There are more popular non-chain restaurants coming to the area, like in Mission Farms. Way back in the day, there weren’t that many good restaurants in that area, but now there are.” 

Where the neighbors grab a cup of coffee

Hattie’s Fine Coffee, just across Mission Road in PV.

Having fun

With those large lots, most recreation in Old Leawood happens in backyards, but there is a one-acre park, Brook Beatty Park, at 86th Terrace and Lee Boulevard. The Glenwood Arts Theater, a small independent theater showing foreign and arthouse films, is on the backside of the Ranch Mart plaza.

Hot spots

More than any other neighborhood on this list, Old Leawood is overwhelmingly residential. However, on the south side of the area, you’ll find Mission Farms, which has a standout Greek restaurant in Paros Estiatorio, a Martin City brewing taproom and a popular Southern brunch spot.

Paros Estiatorio by Caleb Condit and Rebecca Norden

NUMBER 10

East Olathe | 66062

The 66062 is east of I-35 and follows the contour of the freeway as its western border between Pflumm Road and 191st Street. It’s a massive area with 80,000 people.

“We’re talking about the largest zip code in Kansas by area,” says Sherry Timbrook, an agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. “It’s larger than any zip code in Missouri, too. It’s almost fifty square miles that it covers. So we’re talking about a very large land area and a very large population.”

Some of the zip code is served by Blue Valley schools, some is in the Spring Hill district, and much of it is Olathe.

Why it’s hot

Unlike other areas of Johnson County that are now landlocked, the south side of 66062 still has room for new development—and new development is what’s driving the surge there.

Less than a half of a percent of the existing homes in the area are listed for sale, but in the last three months, sales closed on more than a hundred new homes.

“One-hundred families have moved into a brand new construction home,” Timbrook says. “There are another hundred and seventy-three that are under contract but have not gotten to a closing date yet.”

Expect to see more than two dozen offers on a single house—it’s been an ultra-competitive market. 

“On Thursdays, when the new homes are listed, you see the same realtors with the same clients at the exact same houses,” Timbrook says. “Then all of a sudden you realize we didn’t see so-and-so this week, I guess they got their house.”

Where the neighbors grab a cup of coffee

At their neighbor’s house. “They are very community-centric,” Timbrook says. “All the new developments have a clubhouse and swimming pools, walking trails, playgrounds and schools right within the neighborhood.”

Having fun

The area does have some very nice parks, including Black Bob, Heritage and Lone Elm. But most people moving into the zip code are living in new developments with their own amenities.

“It’s about making community connections,” Timbrook says. “The community parks are fabulous, but the facilities in the neighborhood are a huge benefit of the planned communities.”

Hot spots

The corridor off 119th Street and Black Bob/Strang Line roads is the hotbed of shopping, dining and entertainment in the area, Timbrook says. It’s got a little of everything: movie theaters, amusement centers, bowling, arcades, big-box shopping and boutique shopping.

NUMBER 9

Martin City | 64145

This is arguably the most diverse area on this entire list, and homes range from $70,000 to $700,000 in this single zip code, says Heather Shelton with RE/MAX Elite. “It is absolutely primarily families,” she says.  “It’s the epitome of the suburban area, and it is very diverse.” There are a lot of private schools in the area (Barstow). Martin City itself is part of the Grandview District.

Why it’s hot

Affordability—Martin City is the cheapest place to live “out south.” “That is changing rapidly,” Shelton says. “And then having access to virtually everything—you’re twenty minutes from anything in Kansas City.”

Being in Missouri is also a draw for some, she says. “You’re close enough to Kansas and the Leawood area, but you’re not living in Kansas.”

Missouri’s medical marijuana program has also been a draw. “Medical marijuana is something that has changed a lot of lives and that’s been a big deal for people,” Shelton says. “It’s accessible in Missouri, and who knows if it will ever be available in Kansas?”

Where the neighbors grab a cup of coffee

Martin City Coffee off Holmes. “Specifically, the lavender latte is my recommendation,” Shelton says.

Having fun

Red Bridge is one of the metro’s top parks. Martin City has indoor sand volleyball at Volleyball Beach and, of course, downtown Martin City is home to landmark steakhouse Jess & Jim’s and Martin City Brewing.

Hot spots

The new Peanut on State Line is wildly popular. “It’s called the Leawood Peanut, but it’s on the Missouri side,” Shelton says. “There’s cars lined up to park clear out onto State Line sometimes.”

 

NUMBER 8

The Crossroads / Union Hill / Beacon Hill / Hospital Hill / The Westside | 64108

The 64108 zip code encompasses the Crossroads and parts of midtown and downtown Kansas City, stretching from landmarks like the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in the east all the way to Ponak’s Mexican Kitchen on Southwest Boulevard. It’s a hotbed for entertainment, food and the arts. This area has a lot of historic charm, with older homes and monuments like the National WWI Museum and Memorial. But there’s some new development happening, too, especially at the top of the hills in the Westside, where lots offer a prized view. 

Realtor Beth Ott from Taylor Made Real Estate says that if someone is looking for a new build in this area, Beacon Hill is the top pick. “But there’s always the possibility of a new build on the Westside,” she says. “It’s just a little bit different because, you know, it’s not one big development. The Westside North area, in particular, is such a mix of new and old. You can find homes that are over a hundred years old, but then you could walk down the street and find a home that was built five years ago.”

Why it’s hot

This zip code has many of the city’s top draws—the Crossroads Arts District, Crown Center, Union Station and the Kauffman Center. Living in the area provides easy access to transportation and attractions, plus views of the growing cityscape.

Hot spots

These days, it’s all pretty hot here—restaurants, breweries and bars abound.

Where the neighbors grab a cup of coffee

The Crossroads is littered with cool coffee spots: Hitides, Ollama, Goat Hill, Mildred’s, The Roasterie and Rochester among them. “Since the Westside North neighborhood has older homes, it definitely has more of an already-established neighborhood feel,” Ott says. “You’ve got Westside Local and Bluebird and, now, Clay and Fire over there. Fox and Pearl is just right down the street. There are so many restaurants within a few blocks, and people are really loving that.”

Having fun

In addition to the National WWI Museum, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Money Museum, there’s also Union Station and Crown Center, which offer many exhibits and events for groups of all ages like Science City and Legoland. Next to the lawn of the Liberty Memorial, there’s also Penn Valley Park with an adjacent off-leash dog park.

NUMBER 7

North KC / Staley Farms | 64155

The 64155 zip code is in the Northland—south of 435, north of Barry Road between Platte Purchase Drive and Woodland Avenue. It’s an area that includes large new build homes around the Staley Farms Golf Club and mid-rise apartments around North Oak Trafficway. It’s about twenty minutes from downtown Kansas City and close to the airport. 

“Housing-wise, the Northland is composed primarily of single-family homes,” says realtor Joy Engle, an agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate who works in the Northland. “The area mainly consists of families who want good schools for their children and a safe place to live.”

Why it’s hot

“There are many areas of the Northland that have a smaller town feel yet are still centrally located to highways to get to downtown, the airport, excellent schools and great shopping,” Engle says. “Because we’ve been dealing with Covid for the last two years, there is a lot more remote work, which frees a buyer up significantly in relation to their distance from work. So many people are relocating from states and cities where homeownership is unattainable to the Northland for a great opportunity for their future and family.”

Where the neighbors grab a cup of coffee

“Anytime you drive by a Starbucks in the Northland, you will often find cars wrapped around it—especially in the mornings,” Engle says. “However, there are some fantastic local coffee shops. Friendly Bean is a local spot off Barry Road, and Headrush is close by, just off North Oak Trafficway. 

Having fun

There are several parks that have had amazing updates in the Northland, Engle says. She likes Hodge Park. “It has lots of trails and is connected to the Shoal Creek Living History Museum, where you can take a step back in time with historical buildings,” Engle says. “You might even see buffalo there.” For indoor fun, “T-Shotz is now open where the Metro North Mall location once was,” Engle says. “Rush Funplex is a newer version of Main Event in the Northland that has tons of activities to do inside like bowling, minigolf, go-karts and laser tag.”

Hot spots

The Northland zip code is hot for its proximity to just about everything and its quietness away from the major city lights.

NUMBER 6

New Leawood / Middle Overland Park | 66209, 66213

The 66209 and 66213 zip codes are abutting squares, together covering the areas of Leawood and Overland Park between 119th and 135th streets from the state line to Pflumm. Combined, the zips cover a large area, but all fall within the same Blue Valley district—arguably the best in Kansas, says Tamra Trickey, an agent with ReeceNichols who lives in Leawood’s 66209 zip code. “They are all Blue Valley, so that is obviously a big, big attraction,” she says. “It really is the school district. The schools are superb. All the Blue Valley schools are just highly, highly desirable.”

Most of the homes in the area were constructed in the nineties, with a few dating back to the eighties and some new construction. Those homes tend to have rooms that have a larger scale and larger footprint than comparable homes built before or since. The trees on the lots have grown in and matured, offering a little more privacy and richer landscaping than in new construction.

Why it’s hot

The Blue Valley School District is the biggest attraction, but the area is also popular with people who commute to work or for recreation. Even as Johnson County development continues to push south, some people still strongly prefer to be north of 135th Street, Trickey says. “There was a time when that seemed like the edge of the universe,” she says. “This feels closer in, although it’s south of 435. It’s different than being way out south. It’s an easy twenty-minute commute to anywhere.”

Where the neighbors grab a cup of coffee

“There’s a Starbucks on every corner,” Trickey says.

Having fun

There’s a park on every block, Trickey says, plus lots of public golf courses, top-notch shopping and easy access to both the Deanna Rose Farmstead and the start of the Tomahawk Creek Trail, which continues all the way out to Shawnee Mission Park.

Hot spots

Pickleball and rotisserie chicken appeal to locals, and they finally got them together at the new Chicken N Pickle at Prairiefire. “They used to have a policy that they would not have more than one per state, and there was one in Wichita,” Trickey says. “I know lots of people kept asking them to come to Johnson County, and I guess they were finally convinced. That’s the hot spot.”

Chicken N Pickle

It’s tough out there!

A local agent offers five warnings for would-be buyers.

NUMBER 5

South Prairie Village / Northeast Overland Park | 66207

The 66207 zip code covers south Prairie Village from 83rd Street to the 435 loop between Mission and Lamar. It’s an area with a lot of homes built in the sixties, many of which have been rehabbed while others have been torn down as prices in the area have exploded. North of 95th Street is the Shawnee Mission East catchment zone while south of 95th is in Shawnee Mission South.

Lindsay Schulze, an agent with ReeceNichols who lives in the zip code, says the area is a “huge mix.”

“You have people who have owned their homes for fifty years and were the original owners, and you have a lot of turnover to younger families because people appreciate the established neighborhoods, they appreciate the trees, they appreciate the parks,” Schulze says. “We can walk our kids to school. People like that mix as opposed to it being cookie-cutter.”

Marian Coast of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate says people in this zip tend to have deep roots: “A friend of mine who was raised there, she’s in her seventies and grew up a half-mile away,” Coast says. “They’re politically conservative and financially conservative, but they’re not really radical. They’re welcoming. They’re very easygoing.”

Why it’s hot

This area is close in and has established neighborhoods, which drive per-square-foot prices much higher than is typical, even in Johnson County. “You pay so much more for the area than you do for the size of the house,” Schulze says.

Schulze recently determined that she needed more room in her home, which prompted a big discussion about whether to move. Ultimately, her family decided to instead remodel their home for the second time in eleven years and added two bedrooms and a bathroom above the garage. 

“Our street is phenomenal,” she says. “We’re best friends with all our neighbors, our kids are all best friends. We wanted to stay.”

Where the neighbors grab a cup of coffee

The Market at Meadowbrook is “super cute” and very popular, Schulze says.

Having fun

It’s arguably the most walkable part of Johnson County, Schulze says, and her neighbors tend to love walking down to Meadowbrook Park, which has pickleball courts, tennis courts, a market and a huge playground.

As a member of the Olathe art commission, Coast is impressed with what they’ve done art-wise in the Meadowbrook area. “They’ve got some sculptures coming onto that shopping center,” she says. “Kid-friendly, a lot of art festivals. It’s very
active. They have lots of children’s activities.”

Hot spots

Everyone we talked to agreed that the neighborhood clubhouse is a sports bar that screens Jayhawk games. “They love Johnny’s at Corinth Square,” Coast says. “They go there to watch KU games. That is the place to go. My husband takes our son to Johnnys to watch the basketball game.” 

NUMBER 4

Stilwell | 66085

The 66085 zip code covers Stilwell and far South Overland Park, the area south of 159th Street between State Line Road and U.S. 69. It’s an area that’s seen an explosion of new construction on large lots, including some small ranches with barns, says Stacy Anderson, a real estate agent with Malfer & Associates who has lived in Stilwell for twelve years. A decade ago, the area was still separated from South Overland Park, even if Stilwell students attended Blue Valley or Blue Valley Southwest schools. But the areas have now grown together—the newest Blue Valley school in the area is being built at 199th and Mission.

Why it’s hot

The Stilwell area offers large lots with room for new construction. “If someone is looking for a little more breathing room, Stilwell would be the place you would look,” Anderson says. “The majority of new development is moving out south. There’s a lot of new construction, new planned communities.”

Where the neighbors grab a cup of coffee

The Starbucks inside the new Cosentino’s at 159th and Antioch
is the popular pick.

Having fun

Bluhawk Sports Park is set to open later this year or early next year and is one of the most ambitious developments the city has ever seen. It’s a three hundred-acre, billion-dollar facility including two regulation ice rinks, eight basketball courts and even a ninja training course and an esports arena.

Hot spots

Prairie Fire is close, but look for neighbors doing happy hour at Red Door Grill and Cactus Grill, Anderson says.

PHOTO GRAPHY BY Jonathan Tasler

NUMBER 3

Parkville | 64152

Jo Grammond, the buyer’s agent with Redfin, lives in Parkville’s 64152 zip. “We’ve got a whole mix of people,” she says. “We’ve got young professionals, we’ve got families. We see a lot of people who are moving here from out of state.”

Parkville is less than ten minutes from the airport and has lots of hiking, a small university and a very cute downtown—and it has Park Hill, one of the strongest public school districts in Missouri.

Why it’s hot

Parkville is an old town with a charming downtown. It’s very walkable and has what Grammond calls “that community vibe.”

“Isn’t it funny, as much as people want that bigger lot for themselves, they also really want a community?” she says. “Being able to have a connection with your neighbors is a big deal.” 

Where the neighbors grab a cup of coffee

Downtown Parkville has two great local coffee shops. Grammond favors the “adorable” Parkville Coffee, a classic college town coffeehouse that’s been around for a decade. Just a few blocks away is the highly Instagrammable new cafe/bar Incahoots, which also serves cocktails and doughnuts and has a seating area in an old train car.

Having fun

Parkville is one of the prettiest cities in the Kansas City area—Country Living magazine named it one of the top fifty places in the country for fall color a few years ago. “Having the elevation, the hills, and having the water and trees was a really big deal for us,” says Grammond, who moved here from Denver. 

English Landing Park along the Missouri River is “just the best place to walk,” Grammond says. Parkville Nature Sanctuary has three miles of hiking trails through a hundred acres.

Hot spots

Grammond is a big fan of downtown Parkville, which has a weekend farmers market, antique shops and an extremely popular Irish Bar, The Craic.

“We moved here from Denver almost seven years ago and the first holiday we had was Fourth of July, so my son and I decided to go to downtown Parkville to see the fireworks,” Grammond says. “It was the coolest experience. It was like, ‘Oh, this is why we moved to the Midwest.’ It was so awesome. Everybody knew everybody, and it was small and not overcrowded—just a quintessential Midwest experience.”

NUMBER 2

South Overland Park | 66223, 66224

The 66223 and 66224 zip codes cover southeast Overland Park and a little bit of Leawood. Most of the area is south of 135th and north of 159th between State Line Road and U.S. 69.

These zip codes are not a secret. The website Niche named 66223 “the best zip code to live in” in the KC metro area, and the 66224 zip code is the metro area’s second-wealthiest by adjusted gross income.

Stacy Foxworthy is a real estate agent with Malfer & Associates and a fourth-generation Kansas Citian who remembers “when College Boulevard was a gravel road.” Foxworthy says this area of southeast Overland Park is especially popular with people who have deep roots in the city. “When the suburbs boomed when I was a kid, a lot of natives would say, ‘I never go west of Metcalf or Antioch,’ and what you notice is they still tend to stay in that area,” she says. “It’s a lot of people who grew up here and maybe said they’d never live out south, but maybe they realize they want a little more space or they want the schools.”

Why it’s hot

“You have idyllic living with great schools and affluent, nice, master-planned neighborhoods and easy access to highways for people who have jobs where they need to get around the city,” Foxworthy says.

The area is favored not only by longtime locals but also transplants, who like its top schools and proximity to Missouri’s cultural amenities, Foxworthy says. 

“The secret’s out,” she says. “We have a lot of people moving here from the East or West coasts because they know it’s an easy place to live. When the pandemic hit, a lot of people really wanted a nicer house or a bigger house. There tend to be larger houses in that area.”

Where the neighbors grab a cup of coffee

The Starbucks at 135th and Briar and Pilgrim Coffee at 127th and Metcalf are both very popular.

Having fun

There are several prominent country clubs, and for cyclists, the area offers easy access to both the Tomahawk Creek and Indian Creek trail systems. The Blue River Bicycle Club, the area’s most active, is based there. For more casual outings, Foxworthy says I-Lan Park is popular. “That’s a big one,” she says. “You see grandmas with their grandkids and moms with their babies going on stroller walks and older couples out for a walk.”

Hot spots

Between Town Center and Prairie Fire, this area of South Overland Park is awash in high-end retail and has notable local restaurants like Joe’s Barbecue and North Italia. Prairie Fire has the newest location of the wildly popular pickleball spot Chicken N Pickle, which has been a huge hit in the neighborhood, Foxworthy says. “The new Chicken N Pickle is hitting it hard,” she says. “It’s awesome. That corridor, you have the Prairie Fire Museum, Chicken N Pickle, Pinstripes and a really nice movie theater.”

NUMBER 1

West Shawnee | 66218

The hottest zip code in the entire metro area, according to the data, is on the western side of Shawnee, south of the river and between K-7 and I-435. That comes as no surprise to Grammond, the Redfin agent.

“We just lost this property in Shawnee where it went for more than $100,000 above list to a cash buyer,” she says. “We’re like, ‘How do you compete? We thought we wrote a very competitive offer, but we didn’t have that much cash.”

The area is in the De Soto School District, with most students there attending Mill Valley High School. “People are priced out of school districts they think they want in Blue Valley, and they start looking at the ratings and think, ‘Oh, this would work, too.’”

Why it’s hot

The biggest reason seems to be schools, with Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission districts out of reach for a lot of younger middle-class families who want a larger lot and home.

“Compared to houses in Overland Park, where it’s hard to find something under $450,000 or even $500,000 for that matter, you still have a lot of options in this neighborhood to get a home that has some space from neighbors,” Grammond says. “It’s still considered a better value.”

Once those buyers start investigating the area, they learn about its easy access to freeways, especially for anyone going north to the airport. 

“It’s really a fantastic location,” she says.

Where the neighbors grab a cup of coffee

Black Dog in Lenexa and the McLain’s in downtown Shawnee are the go-to’s, Grammond says.

Having fun

The parks and sports facilities in West Shawnee are second to none in the metro area. Shawnee Mission Park, perhaps the jewel of the entire county system, sits on its south side and offers a sand swimming beach and canoeing. The Kansas City Ice Center, the region’s premier rink, is also there. The Mid-America Sports Complex, a seventy-acre baseball and softball facility that’s routinely named one of the best in the Midwest, is also there. Most neighborhoods would count themselves lucky to have even one of the zip’s smaller parks, like Stump or Mill Creek Streamway. “Especially for families, the convenience to the sports complexes is a really big deal,” Grammond says. 

Hot spots

The zip code itself is heavily residential and recreational, but it’s just west of downtown Shawnee, where there’s an impressive collection of breweries, a speakeasy with some of the finest cocktails in the city, a summer night market and the recently reopened Aztec Theater, which has been hosting live music a few nights a week. In these pages, we’ve previously called downtown Shawnee the “South Beach of Johnson County.” A bold statement—but the stats from Redfin suggest there’s some truth to it.