Living near a high-scoring school can increase your home’s value by over $200,000, according to the Brookings Institute. That’s not chump change! And while some argue that the correlation between home prices and school systems is not linear – it’s a chicken-or-egg argument – there are plenty of attractive advantages that come with proximity to a school, including increased police protection, personal use of school facilities and living in a “Drug Free School Zone.”  

"Even those couples who don't have kids yet, but are planning to, are worried about the quality of schools in the neighborhoods where they are considering buying. My advice is to check out -- and look not only at test scores but parent reviews, special programs that the school might offer, and also which alternative schools are in the area, including charter and private options. High-scoring or popular schools do raise property values and demand for homes, no question," said Stacie Staub, Live Urban Real Estate.

Sounds great, right? Not so fast. Living by a high-scoring school sounds like a no-brainer, until you realize that a school means kids. And kids are unpredictable. And teenagers? Teenagers can mean havoc on your lawn, commute and sleep cycle.

“My wife I are were so excited to move into our first home,” said Ron, a new homeowner and BrightNest member from Boulder. “We were also pumped about the track at the high school right next to our home. I love to run and couldn’t wait to take advantage of it. We bought our house during the summer and all was good. But then when school started, we realized what a mistake we made. Traffic was insane all hours of the day and night, you can tell that the drivers have only had licenses for a year and band practice is now my worst enemy.”

"Living near an elementary school is fine; all you deal with is a bell sounding about every 45 minutes, school bus traffic and the line of parents picking and dropping off. Middle and high schools, though, can be a nuisance most of the year. Older kids can act out, vandalize, drink, smoke pot and more. It may be good to be close to a school if your child attends, but after that short period of time, I tell my clients that they may have regrets," Neil from 360 Dwellings Real Estate said. 

While home value is something to consider because homeownership is an investment, it’s equally important to consider the reality of living in your property.

"I would give the same advice to someone looking to buy a home adjacent to a middle or high school the same advice I would give someone thinking about buying next to a church or meeting hall...there will be times when traffic is increased, noise levels might rise, and street parking might be more difficult to find, but the rest of the time the building is quiet and usually very well maintained -- not the worst thing to have as a neighbor!" said Staub.

Neil adds, "I tell my clients that if they're going to sell, they should list in the summer when school is out. Know though, that when you sell your buyer pool is also limited since most buyers do not have kids in that exact age bracket and don't want to live near a school. So it may be tougher to sell than a comparable home that is farther from a middle or high school."

Before You Buy:

  • Know that real estate agents cannot comment on the perceived quality or differences of schools and neighborhoods, because they will be violating equal treatment and anti-discrimination laws. So, do not expect your real estate agent to be candid about how the school can negatively impact both your home’s value and the quality of life in the neighborhood.
  • Visit the property at multiple times during the day. What is it like at 7:30 AM on a Monday? What about 3:30 PM on a Friday?
  • Check out the neighborhood’s crime statistics. Is there a spike in vandalism? That may be related to the proximity to a high school or middle school.
  • Knock on doors. Neighbors of your prospective home will be the best way to get accurate information about how the proximity to the school may affect your quality of life.
  • If you are hoping to find a home that you can easily sell, you should consider buying farther away from a middle or high school.

Bottom Line: If the home you’re interested is near a high-scoring elementary school, you’ll get the benefits without the hassle. We say, go for it. But, if your dream home backs up to a middle or high school, it’s worth weighting the benefits against the cost before you sign on the dotted line.

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