Extra Credit

Buying a home in a good school district

When some couples first get married and start looking for their first home, finding a house in a good school district is one of their top priorities. With plans to start a family looming in the near future, they want to settle down in a place where their kids will benefit from smaller classroom sizes, attentive teachers, and opportunities for advancement and growth.

Many communities all across the country offer fantastic school systems and amenity-loaded lifestyles. Though finding the right one will take a bit of extra effort, the payoff is worth it. Studies show that the quality of a school district has a direct impact on property resale values. According to Relator.com, one out of five homebuyers said they would pay six to ten percent more than their budget to purchase a home in the right school district.

Whether you’re single and unattached or have a growing family with kids to consider, the benefits of buying a home in a good school district extend far beyond the classroom. Here are a few ways to evaluate an area before making a buying decision.

1)   Start your research on the Internet. Try GreatSchools.org, SchoolDigger.com, and U.S. News rankings. Here, you’ll find schools ranked by test scores, teacher-to-student ratios, and after-school programs. You can also review the report cards put out by each state to help get a sense of school performances.

2)   Ask your real estate agent. If you’re working with a local Realtor to find your new home, he or she should be able to tell you about the school district for a given property. Inquire about how the district has changed over the past ten years and how it stacks up against other neighborhoods.

3)   Conduct interviews. As soon as you settle on an area, set up an appointment to talk to the district administrators. You’ll also want to visit the elementary, middle, and high schools to get a better sense of what they have to offer. Pay careful attention to classroom sizes, the maintenance of the facilities, safety, and technology.

4)   Do some investigative work. Nobody knows a school better than the parent of a child who is enrolled. Ask around to find out if anyone you know has connections to a parent in the district. Once you get a contact, take her to coffee and pick her brain about the administration, teachers, and enrichment programs.

5)   Check for availability. Just because you move to a specific area doesn’t mean your child will be guaranteed a spot in the local school. Inquire about enrollment for new students. You’ll want to know about wait lists or lottery systems. Everything you learn now could save you from a major headache come enrollment time.

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Kate Kasbee
Kate Kasbee is a blogger and freelance copywriter living in Los Angeles. She has a background in real estate marketing and has also written about a variety of subjects including pet care, how to adopt a vegan diet, and technology. Prior to living in sunny California, Kate spent eight years in Chicago where she lived in nine different apartments in five different neighborhoods. Though she’s not quite done exploring, Kate dreams of planting her roots and owning a home with creaky floors and plenty of land for starting an organic farm.
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