Where to live in Boston: the North End

Sales of previously owned homes jumped in August to the highest rate in more than two years. This uptick is another sign of the housing market recovery, and it indicates momentum hasn't dwindled. According to research reported by the Boston Globe, sales rose 7.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million. This metric is the highest it has been since May 2010, when a federal home-buying tax credit fueled a surge in transactions.

Even with the latest report showing the national real estate market is improving, the recovery remains at a depressed level. Economists consider sales of previously occupied homes below 5.5 million inconsistent with a healthy market, so the country still has a long way to go to find itself in a more positive position. What's more, the number of first-time homebuyers slipped to 31 percent from 34 percent in August 2012, which puts additional pressure on the market and prevents it from reaching more favorable numbers.

One real estate group blames limited supply to the low sales number, saying that weak inventory lifts the price of the average home and makes it harder for people to invest in property. In August 2012, there were 2.47 million homes available for sale in the United States, and it would take only six months to exhaust that supply at the current sales pace.

Where to look in Boston
The North End of Boston wasn't always considered an exciting place to live. Sure, the community is located only a few blocks from the waterfront, but its raw potential wasn't fully realized. When the Big Dig was finally completed, the neighborhood was thrust into the limelight, and people from all over began to flock to Hanover Street for top-notch dining and to the surrounding streets for quaint housing options.

Currently, the average real estate asking price in ZIP code 02113, which covers the North End, is $512,667, according to ZipDataMaps. The average real estate sale price, however, is much lower at $492,600. Homebuyers who want to move into a downtown-Boston community should consider the North End, as home values look to be heading upward. From the community's nightlife options to its Italian eateries, the North End has something for everyone.