Sue Poandl and Dave Perez stand with their kids, from left, twins Ryan and Noah, 6, and older brother Owen, 8, in front of their Smithwood Avenue home. The couple moved from Arbutus back to Catonsville to raise their family three years ago. (Photo by Nate Pesce / July 25, 2013)

For Catonsville residents, "Life is Great in 21228" is more than a slogan on a bumper sticker.

It's the walkability from their homes to restaurants on Frederick Road, the Catonsville Library and area parks. It's the weekly free concerts in the summertime, the annual Fourth of July Parade, the Santa House and not one, but two weekly farmers markets.

Catonsville's collegial atmosphere combined with a proximity to Baltimore City and schools that have consistently earned high marks have madearea real estate, especially in recent months, a hot commodity.

Though there is no conclusive data to back the notions that Catonsville is an increasingly desirable place to put down roots, data from Realestate Business Intelligence reports that home sales are on the rise.

"What I see occurring in Catonsville is a transformation of younger people wanting to move into Catonsville, or return to Catonsville and live after they've been away," said George Moniodis, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker in Catonsville. "It's a magnet."

"We wanted to stay in 21228," said longtime Catonsville resident Maureen Sweeney Smith.

The 58-year-old and her husband Rick Smith, 50, decided about three years ago that they had outgrown their single family home on Smithwood Avenue, but they weren't ready to leave Catonsville.

"Basically, we wanted something smaller," she said. "We didn't need to be heating and cooling five bedrooms."

Their home sold just two days after it went on the market.

It was bought by a young couple with a growing family, much like Maureen and Rick had been when they first settled on Smithwood as one of the youngest couples on the block.

When they decided to leave the neighborhood and move to a condominium on Kenwood Avenue, they were one of the oldest couples on the block, Sweeney Smith said.

"Behind us, there's been a lot of new kids that have come into the neighborhood," she said. "You see houses kind of wearing down with the older people in them and when the new people come in they get a fresh coat of paint. It really re-energizes the neighborhood."

Sue Poandl, 35, and her husband, Dave Perez, 39, moved from California to Catonsville nine years ago.

"I grew up in a small town that's very similar to Catonsville," Poandl said. "(Catonsville is) just a small town with lots of people who know each other.

"We just loved the area," she said. "It was more about the area for me than the house."

After moving from their first Maryland residence at Montrose Manor Apartments in Catonsville to a row house on Circle Drive in Arbutus, the couple decided to move back to Catonsville to settle down and raise their three children.

"We had the little boys by then and we were looking for a bigger house," Poandl said of sons, Owen, 8, and 6-year-old twins Ryan and Noah Perez. "We ended up coming back to Catonsville."

The decision to return came after months of house hunting as far away as Pennsylvania. The close-knit feel of Catonsville won out.

"When we moved to Arbutus, at the time we weren't sure if we were going to stay in Maryland," Poandl said. "We really hunted all over and never found a place we liked better than Catonsville."

They bought their house from Rick and Maureen Sweeney Smith.