It’s September, when the smell of a pencil erasure or a new pad of paper makes me sigh for school days gone by. If you’re a commuter, you may sigh more often because school zones are now in effect around the state. I recently had a conversation with some buyers who really liked a home I showed them but were not pleased there was a school across the street. Having lived across from an elementary school years ago I gladly chimed in to say that there were great benefits to living near a school, like knowing when people would be there or not be there during the day and weekends, and having a swell playground to throw a ball with my dog or shoot hoops with friends. Sure, there is traffic during certain hours as buses and parents bring and take students to and from the school which brings noise, but there’s also a lot of eyes on the grounds which can help with security in the neighborhood.
School locations actually add value to a property, and according to two decades of research done by Duke University housing prices increase when student scores are high, and economists at the New York Times have estimated that a five percent improvement in student test scores in suburban neighborhoods can raise home prices by 2.5%. The Brookings institution found that after studying one hundred of the largest metro areas in the United States they found an average difference of $205,000 in home prices between houses in areas where students have high test scores vs in neighborhoods where schools have low test scores.
A study by BiggerPockets.com found that schools with a low student to teacher ratio, great enrollment and test scores with a school rating of four or five stars were ‘completely insulated form declining home values during a recession’. That means it would be easier for you to sell your home if the market went south, and conversely get a great price when the market is strong. I often have parents or parents to be who are buyers come to me to say they don’t really care so much about the house and its condition but they definitely want to be in a certain school district or by a certain school and would sacrifice square footage, parking and such to live there. Is it just me, or have you noticed that the whiter the neighborhood, the higher the property values and the better the schools?
There are a bazillion websites now that rate schools. Ones I recommend are greatschools.org, utahschoolgrades.schools.utah.gov, and slcschools.org. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway…DO your research if you’re planning to buy or rent near a school, or, want to be near a specific school itself. Your REALTOR should be able to put you in touch with past clients who live near the school or have kids attending there who can give you a real take on the sitch.