Kids or no kids, living in a neighborhood with excellent schools is beneficial to homeowners. For those of you with school-aged kids, “moving for schools” will most likely dictate the location of your next home. Even if you don’t plan to start a family, buying a home in an optimal school district has many benefits and can drastically increase the resell value of your home. This article is a great starting point for researching locations and choosing a home if schools are your priority.
When to Throw Out “Good Schools” Criteria
When should you scratch “good school district” off your list of search criteria? If you are a first-time home buyer and don’t plan to live in your first home when your children are old enough to go to school, think twice about including it in your search criteria. Unless you find a fantastic deal, homes in optimal school districts are usually much more expensive than comparable homes in other areas. Scratching this item off your list opens up more possibilities better suited to your lifestyle. Living in a “cool” part of town might be more important at this point in your life. That’s ok! Own it and enjoy every minute of freedom you have at this stage in your life.
When To Keep Good Schools As A “Must Have”
If you have children or are hoping to buy your “forever” home, purchasing a home in an optimal school district is a must. Even if you don’t have children yet, think about what your life could look like in five or ten years. That way, you won’t be forced to move out of your home in a few years because you didn’t think far enough into the future. If you decide you want to buy a home in a good school district, read on. I’ll show you how to think it all through and make the right decision.
Checklist for Buying a Home in an Optimal School District
Spend time researching schools and school districts. Some great online resources can help you start researching good schools. Two such resources are GreatSchools.org and SchoolDigger.com. Remember that online ratings don’t always show the complete picture of a particular school or school district, and you should seek out other feedback too. Talk to neighbors and friends, visit schools, and meet with teachers. I also recommend reviewing test scores, graduation rates, and teacher-to-student ratios.
Do your research before you start house hunting. If schools are important to you, don’t waste time house hunting without having done any research. Get to know how the schools work in the general area you are considering. Buyers are often surprised that there are more options than they first thought.
Don’t forget to confirm school boundary lines. Always call the school administration to find out the school boundaries and if your home’s location is within a specific parameter. You should verify this information as it’s not always obvious or could be listed incorrectly by the seller. Boundary lines change from time to time, so always double-check!
Learn about all available options. It’s not always clear-cut what is available for students in your area. Each school district has varying options. It’s worth your time to find out more information. There may be special schools your kids could attend, such as magnet or charter schools. Don’t rule out private or religious-based schools. There are many grants and scholarships available that make private schools an affordable option. “Special choice” school zones could change your entire housing search.
Expect to pay a higher price tag for some school districts. Typically, a better school district means higher home prices (and possibly higher property taxes). Be prepared to see that reflected in the asking price.
Keep in Mind
Agents can’t give their opinion. Many clients are surprised to learn that agents can’t offer any opinions on the quality of the schools or school districts because of fair housing laws. Even if we were allowed to comment on schools, my opinion about schools might be different than yours. It’s up to you to decide what qualifies as a good school for your little ones.
If you’re still struggling to find information on school districts, I can recommend additional resources to set you on the right path. Come to me with any questions about home buying! Next week I’ll send you the final article in my Perfect Home series. If you’ve been thinking about buying a fixer-upper to get into a particular neighborhood, then Buying an “As Is” Home— Deal or No Deal? is for you. Find out the pros and cons of buying a home that needs a little extra love.
I'm Lauren Haug! I'm a teacher-turned-real estate agent, and I teach people how to build wealth through real estate in Northern Colorado.
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