I’m talking mainly to you this week, home buyers. If I had a dollar for every time a buyer client asked me ‘What school district is this in?’ I’d have enough saved for a pretty nice vacation. Today, I am going to explain why school districts matter when you are buying a home in Dallas metro area.
What is a School District?
School districting is a method of dividing up US public schools into geographically organized independent special-purpose governments which are governed by School Boards. According to Wikipedia, ‘School districts are local governments with powers similar to that of a town or a county including taxation and eminent domain’. The quality of the school district board strongly influences the quality of the schools contained therein. For more details on the structure, visit: http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Schools+and+School+Districts Why is School District so Important? In short, not all schools are created equal. If you’re looking for a home and it falls outside the catchment of your preferred school district, your kids, or your renters’ kids cannot attend a school within that particular district except for a few select extenuating circumstances. The school might be on the next street over from the house but it doesn’t matter if the district boundary divides then it’s a no go. Sometimes the homes on one side of street belong to a different school district than the homes on the other side! No Problem, I Don’t Have School Age Kids. Woah woah, not so fast. Kids or no kids, the school district can be vitally important to home buyers and sellers alike. Whichever category you fall into you will want to familiarize yourself with the fact because the question will invariably come up and a good school district can add tens of thousands to the value of the home. By the same token, it can save you thousands when looking for a home to buy. Let’s consider an example: Here we have a map of the Irving Texas School district:
And here is one from the neighboring city, Coppell Texas:
See how Coppell has a cluster of A+ ranked school vs. Irving’s B and C ranked schools. If we now compare the average house price in Coppell $4110,000 vs. Irving $186,000 we begin to spot a trend. Higher house prices seem to correlate with better schools. Actually, this phenomenon has been widely studied and appears over and over again. Now I’m by no means suggesting that the schools are the only driver of this as there is a multitude of other factors like; crime rates, walkability, demographics and local government but they definitely have a significant bearing.
When Home Buyers Need To Determine What School District A House Is In.
Ask your real estate agent – this is why you have an agent and this is such a crucial piece of information that they should have it at their fingertips or at very least be able to get it for you.
Visit a website like Great Schools which really is a fantastic resource: https://www.greatschools.org/school-district-boundaries-map/
For rankings of schools in Texas, visit the Texas Education Agency - Texas Accountability Rating System website here
How Not To Leave $ooo’s On The Table When Selling. If you own the home and are considering selling, before you do anything else, familiarize yourself with the school district. If you’re looking around at comparable homes in order to get an idea of what your home is worth, it’s well worth looking up the local schools, school district, and boundaries. Just because a house is on the same street, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily in the same school district. Here’s an example:
Looking back at the scenario given earlier between Coppell and Irving. Imagine your house is just on Coppell side of the border between Irving and Coppell school districts. You or an untrained agent look at comparable homes that happen to be on the Irving side of the school district border when determining the list price of your home. The house might look identical to yours but sold for 10%, 20% even 30% lower than what yours should be worth. There is a risk that this comparable disproportionately influences the price at which you select to list your home at. Let’s say now you’ve done your homework and you know that the district border runs just next to your home and you actually fall within the Coppell school district. In this scenario, you can reduce your reliance on some of those comparables, instead of selecting those that fall on the Coppell side which happens to be significantly higher. And there you go, you’ve just saved yourself undervaluing your house by up to 30%.
How About When Buying?
Home buyers have a couple of very good options on how to make use of this phenomenon and potentially save thousands. If you have school age kids and you plan to put them in the public school system I would carefully study the local schools and target the best school zone that your budget will allow when searching for a home, preferably within walking distance of that specific school. If you don’t have school age children and the need for good schools doesn’t apply to you, don’t ignore it. Being close to good schools can add 10%-30% to the rental value of the home if you plan to lease it out. On the other hand, however, if the school district truly doesn’t matter to you, a purchase just on the other side of the proverbial ‘tracks’ (Irving) in this example could help you snap up an excellent home without the pricing competition of all the families looking to buy in the better school district.
I’m Under Offer On a Home Within a District, Can We Register For A School There? Nice try. In short, no. Most schools are very strict on this because it’s actually a thing that overseas purchasers will buy a home simply to acquire the address, never live there but simply get their kids enrolled in that school local. I don’t blame them, Coppell has some of the best schools in the country (Coppell ISD is ranked 5th in Texas) for example, so competition is intense. That means that even if you are under contract or in escrow to purchase a home and term is starting, most schools won’t accept this as proof that you live in the area. You actually need to own, have closed escrow and have proof that you are living in the home. My advice if you are considering moving for schools, start considering your options way before term starts so you have time to act in a cool, calm and calculated manner. So, plenty of food for thought here but at its core, same with all purchases of this size, the better educated you are and the more you know about the given area and home, the better probability you have of meeting your objectives.
If you have any questions about buying or selling anywhere in Dallas metro area or have any real estate related questions, do not hesitate to drop me an email or a text. It’s free to ask and I love to help home buyers and sellers alike.
If you are interested in relocating to our great city of Dallas and need help finding a home, I would appreciate the opportunity to help you. I have lived in Dallas metro area for over 14 years. Since many of my clients are relocation buyers, I have all the tools you need to help your home search. Whether it is video previews of homes, extended work hours, digital signatures for documents or more, I can make this process as comfortable as possible no matter where you are located. If you are ready to buy a home in Dallas, you may search through the listings published on my website and find the perfect home for your family. In addition to this, if you want to learn more about the home-buying process or get some tips and tricks, you may read the articles published on my blog.