Berkeley’s 94703 zip cost is the “hottest” in the nation according to a story today in today’s San Francisco Chronicle.

This central slice of Berkeley — which runs from Hopkins to the north and Alcatraz to the south, roughly sandwiched on the west and east sides by Sacramento and MLK Jr Way — came out on top in a survey that looked for neighborhoods where homes sold above their asking prices in the second quarter of 2010.

Tidy homes and convenient public transit options are cited in the report as reasons this perhaps unlikely zip code placed first in the country in the ZipRealty study. Homes sold on average 7.7% above asking from April through June. The area’s average list price was approximately $575,000, and its average sales price landed 7.8% higher at $619,574.

Depending on which part of Berkeley 94703 people live in, they can shop at Monterey Market or Berkeley Bowl. The population numbers about 19,000, about 60% of whom are renters, according to The area also takes in the Lorin district to the south surrounding Ashby BART, which is currently enjoying something of a renaissance with new store openings, the imminent opening of the Ed Roberts Campus and community events.

There are currently about 40 properties for sale in the district, according to Redfin, including a recently listed, three-bedroom Craftsman at 1739 Derby Street priced at $635,000, and a two-bedroom bungalow at 1625 Tyler Street which is going for $509,100.

So, we ask ourselves, is this top-spot ranking for a slice of Berkeley just the result another PR-driven real-estate data splurge, or might Berkeley 94703 actually be the next big thing?

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...