Why You Need to Research School Districts When Buying a Home

Updated March 03, 2015
Why You Need to Research School Districts When Buying a Home
Whether you have children or not, researching school districts is a crucial step when buying a new home.
If you’re in the market for a new home you better be researching local school districts – it could mean all the difference for your family, whether you have children or not.
 
When people search for a new home, there are many factors that weigh in on their decision: price, amenities, neighborhood, the square footage, rent or own, new or old, and much more. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting to add another important aspect of home buying to this research list- school districts. Even if you don’t have, or never plan to have school-age children, school districts can still have quite an impact on your home value and living area.
 
Here are four of the main reasons why the quality of school districts is something that you need to keep in mind when you buy your next home.
Why Research School Districts
1. A Good School District = A Good Neighborhood
 
All other things constant, a good school district tends to equal a good neighborhood. And when it comes to real estate, the name of the game is location, location, location. Great location can mean safer neighborhoods, abundance of places to eat, ease of access to transportation, proximity to urban, beach or vacation areas, and amenities like public parks and services.
 
If you do have kids, a good location and good neighborhood are even more important. Just ask John Wetmore, “walking” safety expert and Producer of “Perils for Pedestrians.” “Parents need to consider how their children will get around in the new neighborhood,” John urges. “Will Mom ‘The Chauffeur’ shuttle the kids back and forth to school every morning and afternoon? Or are there sidewalks and crosswalks that enable children to get safely to school on their own?”
 
2. A Good School District = Home Value Stability
 
Even in a down market, an excellent school can be the rising tide that lifts all nearby home prices. Homes can go up or down in value based on macro-volatility or local area changes, but a great school district can act as lynchpin for strong values in a given area, and a life preserver when the market is rough.
 
Kyle Whissel, broker and owner of Whissel Realty in San Diego, says there is a clear relationship between school districts and home values. “?There is a very simple correlation between school ratings and home values.  Neighborhoods with higher school ratings tend to have higher home values. ?We are seeing more and more buyers make school district one of the top considerations when deciding on where to buy.”  
Why Research School Districts 2
3. A Good School District = Higher Selling Price
 
Real estate is by nature a venture that carries with it a certain level of risk and never comes with guarantees. While this is true, you do want to do everything in your power to make sure you get the best that you possibly can for your family. Home buyers should think about resale and building home equity when selecting their new home- even if they do not plan to move in the near future.
 
Plans get altered, situations change, and a move could come sooner than expected, so do everything in your power to make sure you could get a good resale value for your home- and a good school district is one of the best ways to do this. Not only are the values for these homes higher, but these homes tend to take less time to sell when they hit the market. If you don’t move, you are still in a great position to build long-term equity for your home by buying in a good school district.
 
?Kyle Whissel of Whissel Realty is an adamant believer of home values in good education areas. "?The Poway Unified School District is renowned for having some of the best schools in San Diego. As a result, we've seen home values there rise drastically compared to other neighborhoods with similar homes in age, size and quality. For example. values in Poway are 50% higher than those in Escondido which is a very similar neighborhood all because of the higher school ratings?."?
 
Alexis Moore, Real Estate broker with Blackstone Realty Group in El Dorado Hills, California, says that a school district can be a ‘dealbreaker’ when you’re looking to sell your home. “If you need to sell the home in a short period of time…the school district could be a deal breaker and end up costing you money. I know this because it has happened to me and other brokers over the years.”   
Why Research School Districts
4. A Good School District = The Best Education for Kids
 
Last but not certainly least are the benefits of a good school district for parents that do in fact have school-age children. Don’t rely on word-of-mouth and take the research of school districts for granted before taking a leap and making such a big life decision.
 
Zach Hanebrink, Manager with real estate specialists “Boomtown ROI,” is currently looking for a home in Charleston, and considers school districts a vital part of his search. "Schools are assigned based on where you live. There may be loop holes, magnet or private school opportunities, but neither is a guaranteed option. ?Most families will remain in their home for at least 3 years, and this means your children will be at the assigned school during that time period; getting an education, and making friends." 
 
Brian Stewart, Education expert and founder of BWS Education Consulting and Free Test Prep, says that parents can consider different options if they have a private school in mind. “If you know that you are going to send your kids to private school, you can save quite a bit of money by purchasing a nicer home in an area that does not have higher school property taxes.”
 
Brian Stewart also points out that parents should be especially careful if their children have specific learning needs or other interests. “Go beyond the generic reputation of the school if you have kids with unique learning needs. Some schools are much more receptive to accommodating students who need enrichment or remediation. If your child has in-depth extracurricular interests, a larger school is more likely to have a club or activity that your child will enjoy.”
 
Real estate broker Alexis Moore warns that failing to research school districts can be a huge mistake. “In many states and communities like El Dorado Hills, a home may be situated in one particular district however because of overcrowding children are being bussed up to 2 hours away to attend school. So don't assume anything. This is a costly mistake because not only does it impact the children but home values. So assume nothing and research first.”
 
Make the Right Decision
 
School districts should clearly be on every buyer’s radar whether or not kids are in the picture. The right home should be one where you feel comfortable and in a location that makes sense to you and fits your needs in terms of size, style, condition and price. Consider all the factors and gather as much information as possible and you can ensure you have the best chance of selecting a great home for you or your family. Check out our full list of public school rankings across the U.S. right here on Public School Review.
 
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons | bidgee, Joshua RothhaasLibrary of Congress Photo Credit: flickr | Daniel Morrison

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