Author Topic: Should School Ratings matter when looking to buy a home?  (Read 3302 times)

Kaplin261

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Should School Ratings matter when looking to buy a home?
« on: August 06, 2015, 07:28:32 AM »
Should I be concerned with what Greatschools.org says about the home im looking at? Should I avoid a neighborhood that has a high school with a rating of 2?

My child has not yet started school, and were home shopping for a new residence before he starts. If I buy a home in neighborhood that has a school with a rating of 5 or lower is my child going to be any worse off? Of course we will not rely on the school system to teach our child, we will make sure he gets plenty of education at home as well. But what about safety issues or peers that go to that kinda school?

Should we spend the extra money or make a longer commute to be in those neighborhoods that have the schools with good ratings?

I'm a red panda

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Re: Should School Ratings matter when looking to buy a home?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2015, 07:59:45 AM »
Schools matter to me a lot: both for my (potential) children and for resale value of the house.

I'm not sure I'd worry about what that particular website says, but I would definitely check out the schools and their reputations with the people in the area and the larger area (those who track to other schools).  Your realtor might be able to give you some tips about schools; neighbors, people at the gym or work.

And while I would worry about high schools, I wouldn't put too much emphasis there (especially if you are in an area where boundaries change frequently), at that age, I would want to know quality of the elementary school.


mskyle

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Re: Should School Ratings matter when looking to buy a home?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2015, 08:16:29 AM »
If you're going to send your kid(s) to public school in the district, then yes it should count. But you should look deeper than just Greatschools.org (talk to actual parents in the neighborhood, visit the school if possible). Sometimes a low school rating mostly means "poor kids, lots of ESL students." Sometimes it means "huge chaotic classes, burnt-out teachers." It could of course mean both. Also pay attention to local politics, school board issues, etc. Read the local parent blogs. If the schools are good now but there's just been a ballot initiative to reduce property taxes and lay off district workers, schools might be taking a turn for the worse.

If you're not planning to send your kid to public school, or you're open to the idea of not sending your kid to public school, then yes it counts for resale value but only in the sense that some other thing you don't care about counts for resale value. It's basically the same as buying more house than you need in any other respect for the sake of resale value.

Also, how long are you planning on staying in this house? If you have a newborn and you expect to move in less than ten years, then you only need to worry about the elementary school; if you have a five-year old and you want to stay in this house until he finishes college, you also need to take into account that schools can get significantly better or worse over time.

chubbybunny

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Re: Should School Ratings matter when looking to buy a home?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2015, 08:20:01 AM »
Okay, I have to first admit that my opinion on this is kind of far out there, but it is based on my experience both as a teacher and as a parent.  I taught first grade in a "10" school, and it was the worst school I've ever seen.  The parents tend to make outrageous demands on teachers (why isn't my child in the front row? what does he need to do to get a front row seat?), and the pressure to get kids to pass standardized tests has 8 year old kids in tears, with obvious signs of stress (headaches, stomach aches).  Were all kids like this?  No, but I saw it a lot. 

A "2" school is likely a high poverty area.  It doesn't necessarily mean the school is worse, but it's still possible.  At this point I would want to delve a bit closer at the crime rate for the neighborhood I'm looking at.  Your child isn't necessarily going to get  a worse education.  The lower performing school just means more of the kids at that school are having trouble, not that the teachers are worse.  If they are title 1 there may in fact be smaller class sizes, and some REALLY dedicated teachers trying to do the right thing.  Like others have stated, you would want to take a tour and ask around. The best indicator of a child's success in school is their family income, not what school they attend.

I currently live in an area where the schools are 5-7.  I absolutely love it and wouldn't change it for the world.  None of the high pressure garbage, and my children get the right amount of attention and there is very little drama. I also got a much nicer house than if I was trying to find a 8-10 school. If I had to move again, I wouldn't hesitate putting my children in a 2-4 school as long as there isn't a lot of violence and I checked it out first.   

I haven't done this in awhile, but I used to get the raw data from school districts and do a scatter plot in excel that compared the % free lunch with student test scores.  If you can find a school that shows up above the trend, you might find a diamond in the rough...

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Should School Ratings matter when looking to buy a home?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2015, 08:21:12 AM »
Yes, it matters. Pennsylvania at least publishes a school safety report as well as test scores, which factored in to where we bought.

galliver

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Re: Should School Ratings matter when looking to buy a home?
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2015, 08:21:48 AM »
There are studies that have shown that peer group influence matters more than parental influence in terms of a  kid's success (using a traditional definition: high grades, no drugs, etc). Good friends will be easier to find at a good school (though most schools do have a "bad crowd" somewhere).

Another consideration is course offerings. When my parents moved and I was in high school, they gave me a general area abd told me to pick a school. I based my choice on whether the school had the AP courses I wanted. (Calculus, Chemistry, and Physics were dealbreakers). A few years later, my sister made a similar choice (she was interested in the History and Literature offerings, though).

Quality and quantity of extracurriculars will also probably vary...sure, you could find an external drama class or basketball league, but tabs extra cost, driving, etc.

If the elementary and middle school are good, you could also consider the trade-off in going private vs the house near the better school. More likely to be worthwhile for fewer kids.

gillstone

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Re: Should School Ratings matter when looking to buy a home?
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2015, 08:32:18 AM »
Greatschhols.org ratings are based largely on test scores and don't capture some really important aspects of a local school.  For instance, my kid's school has integrated art into the curriculum at all levels and holds an annual art gala and auction to showcase their works.  My son's kindergarten class auctioned off fused glass bowls, the third graders sold impressionistic landscapes made from glass mosaics, and the fifth graders painted murals in the style of 1930's folk art.  However, according to the website there is no art program at my kid's school.  Also sites like greatschools.org are kind of like yelp, there are reviews, but there is no accounting for the quality or state of mind of the reviewer so take the reviews you find with a grain of salt.

Talk to parents and teachers.  Look at test scores and how they compare to the area overall.

charis

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Re: Should School Ratings matter when looking to buy a home?
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2015, 08:35:48 AM »
Yes, it matters. Pennsylvania at least publishes a school safety report as well as test scores, which factored in to where we bought.

Yes, the quality of the school matters, but not the number on a website.  The resale value in our urban neighborhood is great, historically and currently.  Two of the local schools with a middling to low "score" are known to be very good, but have many students who live in poverty.  That's what happens when you value living in a city.  Some areas have higher poverty.  I wish it wasn't like that, but it is. 

Frugal D

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Re: Should School Ratings matter when looking to buy a home?
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2015, 02:05:08 PM »
Yes, it matters for the resale value of your home.

It (mostly) does not matter for education purposes. This isn't the public vs. private school debate thread, but in my opinion there is little difference in your child's potential whether you send them to public or private school. Education, work ethic, character, etc, are learned at home.

I went to a rough public high school followed by a public state college. I grew up with a number of neighborhood kids who went to private school all their lives, high school and college. I am friends with them all to this day and have done equally as well if not better than all of them so I'd say live in the house/neighborhood you like the most and be present at home with your children. 
« Last Edit: August 06, 2015, 02:16:46 PM by Frugal D »

Mississippi Mudstache

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Re: Should School Ratings matter when looking to buy a home?
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2015, 07:15:54 AM »
It pains me to say this, but I agree with everyone else: Yeah, schools matter when you're buying a house. The only exception to this is if you don't ever plan on selling it. My wife and I made the mistake of buying a great house in a shitty school district 4 1/2 years ago, before we had any kids. We knew we would be gone by the time we had kids of school age, so we figured it didn't matter. Turns out that it did matter. Combine the bad schools with a softening job market in the area, and we were unable to sell the house when we finally moved. Mind you, this was a house that we bought in 2011 - supposedly the nadir of the national housing market. It turned out okay, because we are now renting the house out for a nice cashflow, but if I could have a re-do, I would definitely have taken the schools into account. We could have paid a little more to be in a district rated "6" instead of "2", and we wouldn't have the hassle of managing a rental from 3 states away right now.