Sara Boucek grew up in a small Illinois town, so when she and her husband obtained jobs in Arlington Heights, it seemed like a daunting task to move to the Northwest suburbs.
That is, until they saw the tree-lined streets in the village's Stoltzner neighborhood, which gave Sara a feeling of "being back home."
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Listing sheetPrice range: $190,000 to $250,000 (small ranches for teardowns). Other homes $200,000 to more than $900,000.
Age of homes: About 30 to 60 years
Schools: Olive-Mary Stitt and Thomas Middle schools in Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 and Hersey High and Prospect High schools in Northwest Suburban High School District 214
Parks: Arlington Heights Park District
"We found a home for sale there, and we bought it," Sara Boucek said. "We really liked the area, and we lived in our home for seven years until we outgrew it.
"We loved the neighborhood so much that we wanted to stay there. So about a year ago, we bought another ranch on the same street four doors down. Now we're completely remodeling the first floor and adding a second level to the house," Boucher said. "It will have a very open concept. This is the home where we'll raise our family. It's like a new home for us."
The adjoining Stoltzner and Arlington Farms areas of town are significant now because of the recent uptick in new construction, with a growing demand for single-family ranch homes and lots to build on, said Maria DelBoccio, broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Northwest.
"People are calling me saying, 'I see what so and so is doing, and I want to do that,' or they say, 'Wow, I see the chain link fences around properties everywhere. Is it a good time to build?' "
This growing trend is a sign of an improving housing market and the current low inventory of available homes for sale in desirable, established neighborhoods, she said.
Within the last few weeks, DelBoccio has sold four lots with ranch homes to clients who intend to either build from scratch or add a second story. "People make it look like a brand new home when they build up and change the front elevation," she said.
"A lot of people don't realize how cost-effective it is to do this," said DelBoccio, who speaks from experience. She herself is in the beginning stages of building her own new home in this part of town.
"With four daughters, we needed a home with five bedrooms. We found the perfect location here where the kids can walk to school. We have everything we want.
"The amazing result for people who do this is they have a great location in Arlington Heights. They're designing the homes they want -- it's almost like a dream home -- and they're saving a good amount of money."
When it comes to retaining value, conventional wisdom is that it's better to own a smaller home among larger ones than to live in the biggest, most expensive house on the block. When you see other people adding a second story to a ranch-style house just one block over, or two houses down, there is no reason for concern about this, DelBoccio said.
"The big attraction is location, location, location. People like walking downtown, to all the festivals and to the train. And there are parks everywhere."
The Bouceks say Arlington Heights has so much to offer, and they can easily get up to Wisconsin or into the city. "It's a great location," Boucek said.
"The schools are good, and the park district programs are great. We're involved with the soccer programs and dance, and as a whole, the community is very friendly. Our neighbors are great, and they treat us like family."
The village's thriving downtown also features an eclectic mix of restaurants and pubs, live theater performances, outdoor concerts and shopping at boutiques, specialty shops and galleries.