Redfin Analysis Validates Old Real Estate Strategy: Buy the Cheapest House on the Best Block

Neighborhoods with a Mix of Affordable and High-End Homes are Three Times More Likely to be Walkable and Near Highly Rated Schools than are Purely Affordable Communities

University District in Seattle Tops List of Neighborhoods with Affordable Homes and High Walk Scores and GreatSchools Ratings

SEATTLE--()--It’s difficult to find an affordable city home with a high Walk Score near highly rated schools, according to Redfin (, the next-generation real estate brokerage. Homebuyers who want “it all” –affordability, walkability and highly rated schools– should look in neighborhoods with a mix of both affordable and high-end homes. A Redfin analysis found neighborhoods with a balanced mix of home prices are three times more likely to have high Walk Scores and above-average GreatSchools scores than purely affordable neighborhoods. Thus, Redfin’s latest analysis of 20 major U.S. cities validates the old real estate adage that one should buy the cheapest house on the best block.

“The taste of the American family is shifting from sprawling far out McMansions to close in homes near urban amenities,” says Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson. “Add affordable prices and highly ranked schools and you get homes every family wants but few can find. The upshot of our latest report is that these gems can be found in neighborhoods with a mix of housing types, where families across the income spectrum can live, work and play together.”

Redfin ranked 170 balanced-mix and affordable neighborhoods by their Walk Scores and GreatSchools ratings and found that only 24, or 14 percent, actually meet those common demands, and only eight of the 20 cities analyzed had neighborhoods that made the list. Not a single neighborhood in Boston made the cut, even though Boston topped the list in Redfin’s last report for having the most area covered by a balanced mix of home prices.

Seattle’s University District, with a balanced mix of home prices, a Walk Score of 91 and an average GreatSchools rating of 7.8 tops the list of neighborhoods with affordable homes, high Walk Scores and above-average GreatSchools ratings:

Table: Top 24 Affordable And Balanced-Mix Neighborhoods Ranked By Walk Score And GreatSchools Rating

Rank     Neighborhood    

Home Price

    Walk Score    



University District, Seattle

Balanced 91 7.8

West End, Washington, DC

Balanced 95 6.5

Adams Morgan / Kalorama Heights / Lanier Heights, Washington, DC

Balanced 94 6.5

Queen Anne, Seattle

Balanced 80 7.4

Ravenna, Seattle

Balanced 74 7.7

Rosedale, Austin

Balanced 69 5.3

International District, Seattle

Affordable 97 5.2

Columbia Heights, Washington, DC

Balanced 93 5.5

Fulton River District, Chicago

Balanced 92 5.2

Hillcrest, San Diego

Balanced 80 6.3

Banker’s Hill, San Diego

Balanced 84 5.8

Zilker, Austin

Balanced 64 7.6

Westmoreland / Montrose, Houston

Balanced 83 5.6

Platt Park, Denver

Balanced 75 6.3

Eastlake, Seattle

Balanced 69 6.8

Windsor Square, Phoenix

Balanced 74 6.2

Victory Heights, Seattle

Affordable 64 7.0

Rolando / SDSU, San Diego

Affordable 74 5.9

Columbia City, Seattle

Affordable 80 5.2

Bouldin Creek, Austin

Balanced 75 5.4

West Highland, Denver

Balanced 74 5.1

Highland, Austin

Affordable 63 6.1

El Cerrito, San Diego

Affordable 65 5.8

Schorsch Village, Chicago

Affordable 68 5.2


Redfin used its own home sale price data from July 2013 through June 2015. City-specific median family income came from the 2014 one-year American Community Survey.

To define affordability in each city: A home was considered affordable if 28 percent of the local median family income could cover the monthly mortgage and principal payment, assuming the buyer put 20 percent down and took out a 30-year loan with a 4 percent interest rate. Homes with sale prices 20 percent above that threshold were considered expensive.

To get the price mix of different areas, Redfin summarized the price of recently sold homes in a 500-meter grid. Affordable areas had at least three affordable homes for every expensive home. Areas with a balanced mix of home prices had a ratio of affordable to expensive homes between 0.33 and 3.0. High-end areas had at least three expensive homes for every affordable home.

Redfin considered a neighborhood “walkable” if it had a Walk Score of 60 or higher. Read more about the Walk Score methodology here. An above-average GreatSchools rating meant 5 or above. Read more about the GreatSchools methodology here.

To read the full report, complete with charts and data, please visit:

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About Redfin

Redfin ( is a next-generation real estate brokerage that represents people buying and selling homes. Founded by technologists, Redfin employs a team of experienced, full-service real estate agents who are advocates, not salespeople, earning customer-satisfaction bonuses, not just commissions. features all the broker-listed homes for sale, as well as for-sale-by-owner properties that don’t pay brokers a commission. Redfin also offers online tools, built by its own software engineers, that make the entire process of buying or selling a home easier and more fun. The company serves major markets across the U.S. and has closed nearly $20 billion in home sales. In 2012, Redfin was named one of The DIGITAL 100: World’s Most Valuable Private Tech Companies by Business Insider.

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Redfin Journalist Services:
Alina Ptaszynski, 206-588-6863


Redfin Journalist Services:
Alina Ptaszynski, 206-588-6863