Why the School District Should Impact Your Home Search

By Deanna Lawley

Buying a home in a good school district can result in resale advantages, offer protection from market fluctuation and provide a great education. Real estate experts in markets across the country share what you should know about a school district’s impact on real estate, whether or not you plan on using the school system.

Determine what you’re looking for in a school district

Before you begin your search, determine how you are looking to benefit from the school district.

According to associate broker Aisha J. Thomas, the most important quality of a good school district is unique to every buyer. “Although test scores and statistics are a great starting point, schools require a closer look. Factors to consider are the environment, active parental participation, teacher credentials/support, offering of core competencies, extracurricular and after-school options. These factors can contribute to a well-rounded education.”

“The quality of the school district is one of the first things home buyers evaluate before making a purchase. Many buyers filter their search by only looking for homes in a certain district,” says agent Jake Cain. “Defining what a ‘good’ school district is varies from one family to the next. While we often think of high test scores, some families may be concerned with their budding athlete playing for a top program and others may place a particular premium on student-to-teacher ratio.”

You don’t need to have children to benefit from buying in a top school district.

“A home located in a good school district carries the benefit of maintaining its value in comparison to lower tiered school systems,” says real estate consultant Linda Brincks. “Even if you do not plan to use the school systems yourself, many buyers (especially relocation buyers) will opt for homes in the top notch school systems when it’s time to sell the in the future.”

Consider the resale value potential

When thinking of the area’s long-term potential, the school district should be a top consideration.

“Before you invest in an area you should research as much as possible to determine the factors that could affect your resale ability in the future,” says agent Kristie Zimmerman.

“A school district is a very important factor to consider when buying a home even if you don’t have children, because it can have a dramatic effect on the resale value of the property,” says Thomas. “Properties located in good school districts tend to hold value or even increase in value when the rest of the market has stalled.”

“Parents of young children or individuals without children will look for schools in up-and-coming areas, where the influx of buyers could substantially change the schools, due to the increased enrollment and tax base, while the home prices remain on the lower end,” says Thomas.

“A good school district definitely adds to the value of a property whether you have children or not, however in my experience better school districts are usually located in more upscale neighborhoods, says agent Jim Esposito. “They are safer, offer higher appreciation, will hold value better through market fluctuations.”

Buying without children

Even if you don’t plan on using the schools, the school district should still be an important part of your home hunt.

“It is always a better investment to buy into a top school district,” says real estate professional Carol Huston. “In Los Angeles, properties located in high ranking school districts, which is California’s Academic Performance Index, school districts with scores of 9-10+ always sell at a premium.“

“Real estate values are driven by demand,” says Zimmerman. “The end buyer may make their decision to purchase based solely on a school.”

If you don’t plan on using the school district, it still pays to get involved.

“I always advise clients to support the school in their neighborhood even if they don’t have children,” says Huston. “It will help children and bring up the value of their own property.”

Weighing the cost of buying in a higher-priced school district

In addition to a higher resale value, buying in a good school district can save on the costs of a private school.

“Many of my clients sold their homes to take their kids out of private school and to move into a great school district, says Huston. “They felt that they would rather support public school and pay it into their house mortgage, than pay it to a private school.

“The higher home costs of a top district are worth it when you factor in the cost of private schools, says Thomas. According to the Digest of Education Statistics 2010, National Center for Education Statistics report the average cost is $8,549.” 

Do your homework

To gain a full understanding of the school district, broker/owner Nicole Lee recommends looking into the teacher student ratios, testing scores, and any recent school of excellence awards.

Cain says, “One great place to get district information is from SchoolDigger.com.”

“Find your state’s website, which should offer district report cards that will let you compare schools against another,” says Brincks.

“Ask your real estate agent and any personal contacts in the prospective areas, or via Internet posts for opinions. There always seems to be one school or district that gets repeated,” says Thomas.

“Speaking from personal experience as I’ve relocated from Michigan to California then to Georgia within the past year; online resources, like GreatSchools.org, were instrumental in helping me find a good school for my child, like,” says Thomas.

Huston encourages her clients to go to the local school and check it out themselves. She says, “See if there are parents walking their children to school. Are there local businesses that support the school? How crowded are the classrooms? Are you guaranteed a space in the school just by living in neighborhood, or is it so popular that you have to be put on a waiting list or go into a lottery?”

Use this advice when home hunting to make the most out of your investment and increase your resale value—whether or not you have children.

This article was originally posted on the Homefinder.com blog

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.