What YOU Need to Know When Buying for Schools

“How to Find the Perfect Home for You (and Your Budget!)” Series

In this 8-part series, How to Find the Perfect Home for You (AND Your Budget!), you’ll learn how to find a home that is the right fit for your lifestyle, needs and, most importantly, your budget. I take you through every single step and show you how to avoid buyer’s remorse. 

One piece of criteria you must think long and hard about is whether “good schools” should be part of your criteria for a home. 

When to Throw Out “Good Schools” Criteria

When should you NOT have schools be part of your search criteria? 

1. If you are a first-time home buyer and plan to sell before you have children, maybe think twice about including it in your search criteria. Maybe living in a “cool” part of town might be more important at this point in your life – and that’s okay! Own it and enjoy every minute of it while you are in that stage of life. 

But remember that life throws us curve balls, and if you plan to have children, it might be a good idea to buy where you want your kids to go to school, just in case the market turns or things happen sooner than you expect! 🙂

2. If you are an empty-nester or you don’t have kids at all. Usually you’ll pay a premium to buy in an area of good schools. So if you don’t care about that – no sense paying that premium if you don’t have to!

For BOTH groups … don’t worry too much about resale value – you’ll find similar buyers just like you who aren’t buying for schools.

When To Keep Good Schools As A “Must Have”

If you are going to be buying your “forever” home, or plan to have children in the near future – then YES, you definitely want school boundaries to be in your search criteria. That way you aren’t forced to move out of your home because you didn’t think far enough into the future. 

This decision is CRUCIAL in your search for a home – pause and really think about it. How long do you plan on living in this next home? Will you need to send kids to school during that time?

If you decide you plan on living in your home when you need to put kids into school, read on. I’ll tell you exactly how to think it all through, and make the right decision. 

“Buying for Schools” Checklist

Agents can’t give their opinion. Many clients are surprised that agents can’t offer any opinions on the quality of the schools or school districts because of fair housing laws. So don’t get frustrated when you ask about schools. Even if we were allowed to comment on schools, my opinion about schools may be different than yours, so it’s best for you to decide what makes a “good” school for your little ones.

Spend time researching schools and school districts. There are some good online resources where you can start learning about schools — www.greatschools.org and www.schooldigger.com are two such resources.

Remember that online ratings don’t always show the complete picture about a particular school or school district, and you should seek out other feedback too. Talk to neighbors and friends, visit schools and meet with teachers and/or principals, and review test scores, graduation rates, and teacher-to-student ratios.

Keep in mind that what you may deem as “good” may be slightly different from another family. Some families seek out smaller schools, more diverse schools, ones with more special services, more-community based, or are open to both public and/or private schools. You know what’s best for your kids and family.

Spend time researching before you start house hunting. If schools are that important to you, don’t waste time house hunting without having done any research. Really get to know how the schools work in the general area you are considering. My clients are often surprised that there are more options than they first thought. This can really be a game changer when it comes to your home-buying decision making and where you narrow down your search. 

Don’t forget to confirm school boundary lines. Always call the school administration yourself to find out what are the school boundaries and if your home’s location is within a certain parameter. You should verify this information since it’s not always obvious or could be listed incorrectly by the seller or their agent. 

Know that boundaries can change.  Keep in mind that whatever the boundaries are now, they can and likely will change over the years.  As communities grow and change, school districts go back to the drawing board and alter school boundary lines as needed.

Learn more about all of the school options available. It’s not always clear-cut when looking at public school districts about what is available for students outside your boundary line. Each district can have varying options and it’s worth your time to find out more information.

There may be special schools your kids might be able to apply to and attend, such as magnet schools or charter schools. Also, if you have a child with special needs, you’ll need to research the best options for your unique situation. 

Don’t rule out private or religious-based schools either and take the time to find out about costs, scholarships, and other requirements.

Expect to pay a higher price tag for some school districts.  Typically, a better school district means higher home prices (and possibly higher property taxes). So keep in mind the cost to move into a neighborhood with schools that have a good reputation.

If you’re facing a higher price tag, then you may have to seek out other financing or adjust your criteria (i.e., living in a smaller house or a non-ideal location). But, on the other hand, you’ll likely have an easier time selling this more expensive home when it’s time to move. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth the extra expense.
Next week is the final article in the How to Find the Perfect Home for You and Your Budget series.  If you’ve been thinking about buying a fixer upper just to get into a certain neighborhood, then “As Is” Home – Deal or No Deal is for you. Find out the pros and cons of buying a home where the seller plans to sell it just the way it is.

Hi, there!

I'm Mike and I love helping buyers discover what's really important in their forever home, then working to find that in Chicago's 

Northwest Suburbs. I also have a soft spot in my heart for teachers and love giving back to them whenever I can. Let me know how I can help you make your real estate dreams come true. 




NorthWest Suburbs

schedule your free consultation

or email me!

Hi there!

I'm Mike and I love helping buyers discover what's really important in their forever home, and working to find that in 

Chicago's Northwest Suburbs. I also have a soft spot in my heart for teachers and love giving back to them whenever I can. Let me know how I can help you make your real estate dreams come true. 

schedule your free consultation




NW suburbs