Homebuyers researching schools on realtor.com are zeroing in on elementary schools — indicating that the “majority of people who research schools either have young children or expect to start a family when they buy their next home.”
That’s according to a realtor.com study released today, which also found that 52 percent of millennials born between 1980 and 2000 said the wrong school district could be a deal breaker, compared with 31 percent of all buyers.
The study found eight of the top 10 most popular schools viewed on realtor.com served children attending kindergarten through fifth grade.
Most of top 10 cities where people researched the most school information on realtor.com were located “in affordable, suburban communities outside of larger urban areas,” realtor.com said in summarizing the study. “Generally, the suburbs attract younger buyers because of their close proximity to urban job markets and less expensive housing.”
Realtor.com used the study to publicize the website’s ability to serve up school rankings and test scores, and search for homes not only by school district, but individual school attendance boundaries.
Because the performance of individual schools can vary dramatically even within the same school district, many property search websites, including Zillow and Trulia, offer the ability to search for homes served by a particular school.
The availability of test scores and ratings for individual schools on real estate search sites raises concerns that neighborhoods will become more stratified by income and race.
A recent analysis by Trulia found a GreatSchools rating of 9 or 10 correlated with a 32 percent higher price per square foot. The analysis also suggested that in the long run, parents who shop for bargains in neighborhoods with substandard public schools may end up paying even more if they choose to send their children to private schools.
Because test scores and simplified school rankings don’t always tell the full story of the quality of education provided at an individual school, in some cases homebuyers may be paying exorbitant premiums for the privilege of sending their children to schools that, on closer inspection, aren’t that different than schools that don’t score as well on paper.
Educators have pointed out that even when the quality of education provided is equal, a school with a higher proportion of students who speak English as a second language will tend to have lower test scores than a school where most of the students are native English speakers, for example.