Sunday, January 12, 2014

School District Education

Many customers and clients ask their real estate agent about the local school district as part of their search for a new home. While this seems like an easy conversation for the real estate agent, its not. There are a lot of discriminatory undertones to this conversation and real estate agents need to self-protect while answering questions. Remember, the Fair Housing Act prohibits racial steering, among its aims to provide equal access to protected classes of purchasers / renters.

Still further, boundary lines are confusing and often may result in a trickier situation than is appreciated by both the buyer and their agent; particularly when the home for sale is not being sold by a family with school aged children who would know.

Regardless, the best real estate agents know to refer their customers and clients to third-party sources when things can get hairy and instead focus on the introduction of the parties and the negotiations. This is particularly true in the modern age of the internet where websites have far more data than a real estate agent could possibly remember. So, a great agent will just provide their customers / clients with the names of the websites.

Do you want to know where to send your customers and clients when they ask you about schools?

Sure you do; try these:

  1. National Center for Education Statistics: Federal entity that collects and analyzes data related to education. Use the NCES's School Search tool to learn about public schools, private schools, colleges and public libraries near any house anywhere in the US. Interestingly, this tool will provide your clients with the race / ethnicity of students without having to touch on this discriminatory topic. You will also learn such important information as total district students, total classroom teachers and student/teacher ratio.  
  2. Greatschools: Non-profit that supports families to champion their children's education. Use the Greatschool's Moving With Kids tool to learn the best children's books on moving, how to have a Plan B!, imagine your ideal school, consider your child's needs and to learn about traditional school alternatives. Also, and similar to NCES's School Search, Greatschools offers such a Find a School feature and it offers many of the same quantitative data as the NCES, but also gets qualitative with reviews by people in the community, which will really hit home to your customers and clients. 
  3. SchoolDigger: A project by Claarware LLC, a software development shop, which should be the go to place for district boundaries for schools as their maps just make it so easy. Once you find your area on their interactive map you can click on the school you believe to be applicable to a given area and check their boundaries to see what areas are included in the district. However, knowing the difficulties that boundary lines bring to any question, the site has an important disclaimer that "Not all boundaries are included". So, make sure to check the seller's tax bill to be sure what school district goes with the property. 
Now go sell a house to someone who is educated.