If you’re in the market for a new home, there’s a lot to consider: price, neighborhood, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the size of the lot and the home’s condition, to name a few. But have you taken into account the local school district? Even if you don’t have or never plan to have school-age children, the quality of nearby schools can have an impact on how much you pay — and how much you sell a home for later.
Here are three reasons why you should consider the quality of school districts when you buy your next home.
1. You’ll pay more to live in a good school district
Parents of school-age kids often pay attention to school performance ratings and are likely to pay more to be near public schools with higher scores. Buyers who have kids or are planning to have kids will likely use this type of criteria as the most important part of their search.
The upshot: A school’s high rating often drives up the prices of homes in that school’s district. Even if you don’t have kids, you’ll still pay more to be near a good school. Schools basically establish an area as a good location. And as any real estate agent will tell you, location matters.
2. A good school district might protect you from the real estate market’s ups and downs
Even in a down market, an excellent school can be the rising tide that lifts all nearby home prices.
For example, in 2007 — a time when real estate prices were slowing down — the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the impact of an excellent school on home values can be dramatic: “There could be two districts — one perceived as excellent, one mediocre — divided by a street. The same hypothetical house built by the same developer on either side of that street could fetch $100,000 more if it feeds into great schools.”
Markets turn faster and harder these days, as evidenced by the past credit and housing crisis and the recent upswing in sales. Buying in a strong school district can help protect your home’s value in a declining market. It’s basically more of a “safer bet.”
3. Though it may cost more to buy near a good school, it will be good for resale
Real estate never comes with guarantees, of course. But it’s certain that parents will always want the best school they can afford for their kids. In markets good and bad, home buyers should think about resale when seriously considering a home. Buyers, before moving forward on a home, should immediately think like a seller. Ask yourself the question: “If the housing market changes and I need to sell, how will my home fare?” The location, and in particular the school district, should be considered.
Always pick the home that’s right for you
School districts and their boundaries, even if you don’t have children, should be on every buyer’s radar. Though schools should factor into your thinking, don’t let them top your real priority — to buy the right home for you, at the right time. The right home for you should be one where you feel comfortable and in a location that makes sense to you. Finally, it has to be the right home in terms of size, style, condition and price.
Brendon DeSimone for Zillow Blog