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Getting Schooled on Education

School districts are of vital importance to home buyers. Good schools are a sign of stability, and that is a positive factor for families and investors alike.School books with apple

A 2013 realtor.com® survey of nearly 1,000 prospective home buyers showed that 91 percent valued school districts in their search.The survey revealed that people would give up a bedroom, a garage or square footage in order to have access to their idea of the right schools. Approximately 20% said they would pay up to 10% more for a home that was in their desired district. Many buyers shop with a school boundary map in hand (or on their device), and won’t even look at a home that is not in the target area. An increasing emphasis on test scores makes this even more so today.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research in a report titled, “Using Market Valuation to Assess Public School Spending,” for every dollar spent on public schools in a community, home values increased $20. This seems to indicate that home values are likely to be higher where there are higher school expenditures , but quality education can also exist where districts simply operate more efficiently on smaller budgets.

For rankings of school districts and schools, buyers and sellers can refer to online resources likeSchooldigger.com, Niche.com, USNews.com, and Neighborhoodscout.com. School boundary maps can be found at greatschools.org. You’ll find that rankings and lists each use their own methodology, taking into account a variety of factors:

  • Grade/School/State scores
  • Average SAT scores
  • Graduation rate
  • Enrollment rate in 4-year higher ed
  • Student HSPA scores
  • Class size
  • Student/Teacher ratio
  • Extracurricular
  • Food
  • Facilities
  • Sports

Some, like Niche.com’s 2018 Best School Districts in NJ, even take into account ratings from students and parents. Many of the school districts that turn up repeatedly at/near the top of these rankings – Princeton Public Schools, West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional, East Windsor Regional, Montgomery Township, Hopewell Valley Regional, Robbinsville, Freehold Regional High School District, Matawan-Aberdeen, and Middletown  - are among Gloria Nilson & Co’s key markets. If you have questions about schools in these areas, your realtor’s knowledge and expertise can help you fill in the picture.

Bear in mind that moving to an area with the best public schools and avoiding private school tuition is not, by itself, a surefire cost-saving strategy - home prices can vary by hundreds of thousands of dollars between high-performing and low-performing school districts, and taxes are often higher as well. You may want to compare median home values like nerdwallet.com did in this 2015 ranking.

Take time to research, do the math and weigh your choices carefully. You’ll get an education that will serve you for years to come.


Published September 20, 2017 in Living in New Jersey