How much stock do you put into school districts when shopping for a home? Purchasing property isn’t just an investment for the present; it’s an investment for the future as well.
That’s why many prospective buyers have been putting high value on homes in neighborhoods with strong school districts.
According to a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, buyers in the Peninsula have been paying more than $200,000 extra for homes inside of successful school districts, and not all of them have children!
The respective strength of a school district is determined by how well the students score in standardized testing. Buyers look to these scores with an eye towards the future, but not all that glitters is gold… or rather, not all the gold glitters when it comes to choosing a school.
In San Mateo County, school district officials are challenging that system.
They are working to gather at least 300 real estate agents together next month in San Mateo to give them a broader perspective about how the school system works and what makes a great school.
“I’m hoping to start to change the conversation,” said Carrie Du Bois, a Sequoia Union High School District board member and a real estate agent. “We do need to be working on things (to improve schools), but to be calling perfectly good schools bad – I don’t see how that’s helping.”
Du Bois said real estate professionals are starting to struggle with that old system too, facing 20 offers on one house where bids push up prices $300,000 over the asking price and maybe a couple of below-asking-price offers on another equally nice home, solely because of the local schools’ slightly lower test scores.
Examples abound in this Pacific Union blog, detailing realtors who face aggressive bidding wars over properties in high-scoring areas while seeing declining interest in homes located within comparable but lower-scoring school districts.
A big chunk of those families move north to Marin, where they’re eager to find homes in Tiburon, Mill Valley, Kentfield, and Ross – cities with high-scoring school districts, said Brent Thomson, a senior vice president and branch executive for our Marin offices.
“Bidding wars will break out because those are desirable areas, and if buyers have kids, they’re even more desirable to them,” Thomson said.
She noted that San Rafael’s Dixie School District is also very strong but tends to receive less attention than better-known districts in southern Marin.
The solution may be simply not judging a book by its cover. Test scores may tell some of the story, but a better perspective on a school district may be found by checking out the schools for yourself. Buying a home is an important decision, and which schools are available is certainly tied to it. Taking the time to find out more about the schools in the area could help you find a better deal on a fantastic property.