Meadowbrook Park in Prairie Village, Kansas (ReeceNichols Real Estate)

Bet you can't guess Zillow’s pick for most popular city 

Zillow’s annual rankings are dominated by second-tier cities that are more affordable and a short drive from major metro areas.

December 25, 2022
3 minutes

There's no place like home, when it comes to Prairie Village, Kansas. 

Prairie Village is just a 20-minute drive from Kansas City but has the look and feel of a small town, with well-run schools, verdant parks and homes more affordable than other U.S. suburbs. 

Zillow just released its 2022 rankings of the most popular cities in the 100 largest metro areas, based on the platform's algorithm using page view traffic, housing supply, price appreciation and other metrics. 

Prairie Village, of all places, was No. 1.

Shawn Muller
"Most residents here call it 'Perfect Village,' " said Shawn Muller, managing broker and vice president of ReeceNichols — The Village. "Many of our listings for Prairie Village don't last very long because the area is so popular and sought after even with buyer uncertainty."

Other top finishers on Zillow's list also are communities close to big cities that retain their small-town characteristics. Second was Derry, New Hampshire — a 45-minute drive from Boston — but with the leafy charm of a New England village. In third place was Bon Air, Virginia. The Richmond suburb has just 16,000 residents and retains much of its historic architecture. 

"Where last year's list was dominated by cities an hour or more away from the nearest major metro, this year's top cities are closer to major metros, potentially offering a shorter commute for residents who are transitioning from fully remote work to hybrid arrangements," Zillow said.

Interest in Prairie Village follows a trend by Americans who are not tied to a bricks-and-mortar location to seek out so-called second-tier cities, such as Austin, Nashville, Raleigh, Tampa — and Prairie Village. Close to large cities, they often are more affordable, safer and less crowded.

"The Kansas City metro is one of a host of Midwest markets still seeing robust competition for houses while the market is cooling rapidly in others," Zillow said about Prairie Village, the winner.  

Real estate agents who live and sell homes in Prairie Village say they understand the appeal of their community. 

Chad Taylor
Chad Taylor, an agent with Keller Williams Realty-Key Partners, LLC, described Prairie Village as "a first-ring subdivision of Kansas City proper. We are close to Kansas City, but very quickly you are back in a more suburban area when you are in Prairie Village," he said.

City planners have worked hard to make Prairie Village walkable with the feel of a small town, Taylor said. "People like the location so much they often choose to tear down their current home and rebuild rather than leave the village."

"What I often say — whether it's locally or nationally — there are a million different micro-markets like Prairie Village that continue to see strong appreciation, even with interest rate changes," Muller said.

And Muller sees a silver lining to the cloud of higher interest rates. "I am a big believer that there should be a balance in the market. I prefer to see buyers have the opportunity to negotiate," he said. "There are still going to be communities like Prairie Village seeing strong appreciation on the seller side. But I do believe we will see more balance for buyers in the overall market."

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