Some realtors say that deals (foreclosures and short sales) have been the driving force behind many house hunters’ wish lists. But if you’re a parent who is more concerned with the quality of school districts and how child-friendly a prospective neighborhood is, then you may find this blog helpful.
Recent studies have found that many home buyers are willing to pay a higher price as well as give up certain home features in order to live in their school district of choice. Also, many home buyers are willing to forfeit access to shopping centers, parks and other amenities to be in a better school district. Here are some steps parents should take while house hunting:
Step 1: Make a wish list and rank your family’s must-haves and the nice-to-haves. If you’re eyeing a prospective area, this list will help shape questions for your realtor. Don’t leave anything off of your list!
Step 2: Consider the square footage of your ideal home if you have kids or if you have a growing family. Assess backyard size and whether you prefer a fenced yard. Does your prospective home have ample bedroom and bathroom space? What about a child-friendly floor layout and home features such as fireplaces, swimming pools and stair access?
Step 3: Evaluate the school district’s profile and ranking in the state and community. The great news is, in this digital age, this is a simple task with so much information at your fingertips. It may be helpful to also research the district’s graduation rate, after-school programs, local libraries, funding sources for the schools and overall health of the school district.
A recent Realtor.com survey ranked the top school districts in the U.S. Here are the top three:
1. Westonka Public Schools in Minneapolis, Minn.
2. Geneva Community Unit School District in Chicago, Ill.
3. Lake Oswego School District in Portland, Ore.
Step 4: Next, consider safety in your prospective neighborhood. Is it located near freeways, a forest, a high-volume street, a busy downtown, a body of water or a cliff (heaven forbid)? Some house hunters consider the “protection class” of an area, which is an assessment of how well-served the neighborhood is by emergency responders (fire, police and ambulance).
Step 5: Consider child-friendly features such as nearby playgrounds, community pools and whether an area has sidewalks may all be valuable factors to consider. Also, is the neighborhood well-lit and is the speed limit reasonable for children playing on the block?
Asking these questions and considering these factors will help make you a happier home buyer and family! If you have other valuable resources or web sites to share with parents, such as GreatSchools.org, let us know!
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