Ever wondered how SoHo, TriBeCa, and DUMBO became so popular (and expensive)? Well, they weren’t always that hot.

SoHo, for example, used to be a regular warehouse district in the 70s that attracted tenants because of its low prices. Today’s SoHo, with high-end fashion stores and art galleries lining the streets, normally has people raise their eyebrows with jealousy once you mention you’re a proud tenant. So how did these trendy neighborhoods become what they are today?

You’ll need a good gut feeling and an observant mind to spot them. Look out for the following telltale signs if you’re looking to find the best NYC neighborhoods to seriously invest.

Follow the Influencers

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No, we’re not just talking about Instagram. When it comes to real life, artists and musicians are the ones to watch. They’ll usually move to an affordable neighborhood to live and work, which still boasts a growing emergence of cool spots and eateries.

As history tells, people like to be close to that creative energy and a neighborhood can rise quickly in popularity once enough artists and creatives live there. We’ve seen this in the past with neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and the East Village. Additionally, artists use their unique skill sets and creativity to beautify a neighborhood, which in turn leads to gentrification.

Keep an Eye on Big Brands

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Let some big brands pave the way for you. Retailers like Whole Foods or Home Depot do their proper due diligence before deciding where to set up shop.

Another brand to watch is Starbucks, suggests Triplemint agent Brad Lauren. “It’s like Starbucks did the research for you and ran all the comps to determine an up-and-coming neighborhood,” he explains. Some landlords or realtors will even list close proximity to such a store as a selling point in their listings.

Spot Renovations and New Development

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This is a similar approach to the last one. If the city is willing to invest money into re-doing a park, a large building, or the street pavement in a neighborhood, it better be worth it, so it’s a sign that they’re expecting a major rise in value in that area.

Accordingly, other investors and new tenants will follow, helping the neighborhood on its way up. Head to town meetings to find out about big projects and research new developments online.

Investigate in Neighborhoods Adjacent to the Hot Ones

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When it comes to up-and-coming neighborhoods, the system works like a pot of milk on the stove that gets too hot and spills. Neighborhoods that are adjacent to those hot, trendy ones, normally become trendy over time as well. This is simply due to the fact that the “hot” neighborhood can’t handle its heat anymore and spills over to the areas around it.

These spillover neighborhoods (yes, that is a legit term) just benefit from their proximity to popular surrounding areas, since they often mirror many of their characteristics.

Stay Close to the Millennials

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Millennials know what’s up. Once they move to a certain neighborhood, the area will start catering to their needs, which include better public transport, better healthcare and education, new developments, and improved walkability. Forbes referred to this process as the #Millennialfying effect.

Ask a Real Estate Agent

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Sometimes the easiest way to get information is to just ask. Real estate agents research market data and analytics on a daily basis. Pulling from years of experience, they know what each neighborhood offers and how it’s likely to develop in the years to come.

Many realtors also like to invest in neighborhoods they believe will spike in popularity soon, so just ask them where they live. If an area has your agent’s stamp of approval, you can’t go wrong.

We recently asked our agents at Triplemint what they think the up-and-coming neighborhoods are and where it’s best to invest. Check out their answers here.

Final Verdict

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Naturally, this isn’t an exact science and none of us are psychics who can tell the future. However, there are specific signs that could point you to an up-and-coming neighborhood that may seem a bit rundown or unpopular right now, but will rapidly develop in just a few years’ time.