Many young professionals are moving back to urban neighborhoods, a trend that real estate professionals say is picking up speed.
 
Their grandparents may have moved to sprawling suburbs decades ago and mom and dad may have stayed.
 
But now, 20- and 30-somethings are attracted to urban areas that offer more than just a place to live. Typically, places such as Mount Adams, Walnut Hills, East Price Hill, Oakley, Hyde Park/Mount Lookout, Covington and Newport provide close proximity to downtown Cincinnati, walking distance to parks, shopping, entertainment and lots of square footage for the money.
 
WALKABILITY FACTOR

It's not just city neighborhoods; suburban cities are seeing a surge in movement to their cores, too, Pete Kopf, president of the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors, says.
 
"We're seeing a big push into walkable neighborhoods that are close to employment centers," he says. "People are looking for a nice place to live "” and a strong community. You'll see that the urban areas are really improving."
 
Jed Hartings, 37, an assistant professor in neurosurgery at University of Cincinnati, grew up in Delhi Township. He left the area for 16 years to serve in the Army and go to school. When he returned in 2008, he bought a home in Walnut Hills.
 
"I moved from Washington, D.C., so I was used to a pretty vibrant downtown community with a lot of action and events and art and sports and etcetera, so I was looking for something as close to that as possible," Hartings says.
 
"I was very excited, moving back here, about the prospect of revitalization of downtown, and I wanted to be part of that movement."
 
Todd Blersch, a Coldwell Banker West Shell agent who has sold homes to many young professionals, says the city of Cincinnati's tax abatement for old-home rehabilitation or new-home construction is also attracting young buyers.
 
"Young professionals are looking for something that's move-in ready. They don't want to take on projects. They're getting something that's A) brand new or B) completely rehabbed," Blersch says. "On top of that, they get a 10-year tax abatement," which, on a $300,000 purchase, reduces property taxes to under $1,000 from $6,000 annually.
 
BETTER TO BUY THAN RENT

Kopf also notes that the cost of renting has been going up while the cost of buying has been going down. That's attractive to the 24- to 35-year-old age group, which is the strongest home-buying demographic, he says. Indeed, Greater Cincinnati is sixth among the top 55 metro areas where it's more affordable to buy a house than to rent, a New York Times analysis shows.
 
MerryBeth McKee, 29, director of operations for Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati, moved to an area in East Price Hill for another reason that draws young professionals: It's "green."
 
She's among 90 households that make up the 200-acre Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage. The sustainable-living ecovillage "embraces new and different ideas "¢ and that's very appealing to me," the Maryland transplant says. "There are community members who do their own farming. Not only do they have their own gardens, but they have chicken coops for eggs and goats for milk."
 
Mike Becker, president of the Northern Kentucky Association of Realtors, does some relocation work for Toyota and Procter & Gamble and says the so-called YPs often "want to live close to where they work."
 
In addition, he says, "the young professionals are looking for value. It's still a buyers' market, and they're taking advantage of that."