Buying A Home? Research Schools First!

Prospective homebuyers don’t always think about schools when looking for a home- maybe they don’t have children or they’ve grown up and moved out.  However, we think schools are ALWAYS an important consideration when looking for a home.  Why?  Because the success or failure of schools will, over time, affect whether property values rise or fall.

So, what research should you be doing as you are looking for a home to buy?  If you don’t have children and don’t plan to have any while in this home, you likely can get a comfort level after doing only some basic research.  We like GreatSchools and SchoolDigger: along with useful statistics, GreatSchools will rank the schools in the city you are researching on a scale of 1-10 and also posts reader reviews; SchoolDigger ranks on a 5-star system and also shows rankings by test scores.  Homes for sale in a school district with unusually low rankings compared to surrounding school districts shouldn’t necessarily be eliminated but should give you pause and perhaps reason for further research.  And remember to check the availability of nearby Private Schools- a quality private or charter school can raise property values as well.

Other “school” considerations are proximity to schools, traffic, trends and future school redistricting.  Sometimes relative proximity to a school can be a plus; however, if a school is too close to a neighborhood you are considering, you may want to drive the area during drop-off and pick-up times to see if the neighborhood is overly congested.  Also think about the noise factor, particularly if the school has a football stadium or practice fields (think band noise).  Trends are another consideration, particularly if there is an alarming drop in test scores.  Its also a good idea to check to see if the school has announced plans to either build or close schools in the area you are considering- many times you can find information about redistricting on the school district’s website.  In our sales area, we’ve often seen a “pop” in values when a new school is built.

If you have school age children, we have additional “homework” for you. Drive by your short-list neighborhoods and meet some parents at school bus drop-off time- you’ll get plenty of gossip about the quality of schools and also find out if your neighbors will have children around the age of your youngsters.  Google the schools your children will attend now and in the future.  Research advanced placement and special needs course offerings, depending on your family’s circumstances.  Don’t hesitate to call or meet with the principal or other school officials and be sure to get a feel for the level of parental support for the school.  Lastly, check you local sex offender database to see if there is any reason for concern.

We know it’s a lot of work, but worth the effort.  Whether or not you have children, the quality of local schools can impact your home values, good and bad!

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