In My Neighborhood in 95131>Question Details

tanya.tango, Other/Just Looking in Fremont, CA

Is buying home in good school district really that big a deal??

Asked by tanya.tango, Fremont, CA Sun Mar 17, 2013

Hi, just beginning to research housing market in south bay, CA and want to understand this rush for good school districts. I understand the economics of housing price tied to good school district but, looking at the crazy amount of money that is being bet (million plus) for really mediocre , old houses just 'coz they are in good school district somehow doesn't resonate with me. It sounds unreasonable to me that so much percentage of population can keep moving to same few locations and things would remain the same with these school districts over years. My question is for a first time buyers (married, no children - for another 1 or 2 yrs) is it so important to invest such huge amount in good school districts?? people in the market give me very skeptical view that not buying in school districts is a big mistake in terms of resale value, it just doesn't add up to me. Any thoughts on this line of thinking?? 600 k for good house in safe area vs million plus for good district??

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi Tanya,

You posted a very good question that I deal with all the time. I also have very good friends that are teachers and a son with special needs. You received good responses and here's my thought.

A school's API school doesn't tell the entire story regarding the quality of the education your future children will receive. The reality of economics is families who can afford homes at higher prices usually spend more on resources for schools. There are many things schools can't provide where they look for the community for assistance. This includes school supplies, music programs, sports, after school activities and tutors. There are also several factors that go into test scores where teachers have no control. I believe the quality of your children's education will be based on the importance you place on learning and the time you take to make sure they master the material.

The conversations I have with my clients who are looking for a home is to look in an area where you feel comfortable, promotes the activities you enjoy and has homes you like and can afford. When you're comfortable in your home, your life will be more enjoyable which will greatly impact your children's education.

Regarding resale value, homes are selling just as fast in districts with average API scores are they are in districts with high API scores. The only difference is price. If the seller is asking for a reasonable price based on condition and are reasonable in allowing access, the home will sell. Buy a home for what it is today and how it fits your lifestyle and income. None of us can predict where the market will be in 2, 5 or 10 years from now.

Good Luck and be patient in the process.

David Sciplin
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
DRE: 01477066
Web Reference:
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 20, 2013
What a well reasoned and appropriate response to this question. I think your point about being comfortable in your home has a direct impact to the child's education is a profound one. There is no sense in buying a house you have trouble affording in a "great" school district when the stress of the house can impact everyone in it including the child.
Flag Tue Apr 22, 2014
Schools with the highest API scores are usually in neighborhoods where the parents demand their kids to do well in school. Parents who want their kids to do well usually are doing well themselves and thus the circle continues. There is also a direct correlation between the high API scores and the cost associated with the home. I have seen the exact same home 1 block away in a different district ( with higher API scores) fetch $200,000 more. ( the exact same home, same lot, sf, type if home).

Jim Mauldwin
Intero Real Estate Services
DRE # 01125380 since 1991
Web Reference: Http://
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 17, 2013
Hey, you know - they sell vanilla ice cream and strawberry ice cream.....chocolate, works for one person isn't right for the next person. We all have our preferences.

Clearly people are buying and selling homes in all areas, regardless of how the school districts are rated.

Want more house?
Buy in the town that gives you more........more concerned with schools? Buy less house in the higher ranked school district.

There is no right or wrong........decide what your priorities, needs and wants are, and follow that route.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 17, 2013
and oh! btw, I must tell you I am a techie myself with double masters & in management position, but, I do not believe in API scores or big brand schools as big drivers of kids success... but, I understand that's my personal stance. That's another reason why I find it strange people are willing to bet millions + on old, mediocre houses. By any standards of economics, if larger % of population moves towards one or two locations, law of averages has to catch up, just 'coz parents own house in PA, all kids won't turn up good! so, more I think it looks more like a bubble to me ready to burst anytime! while I am being advised other way round - that I might be up for a big loss if I don't go by popular belief of good school district. I am more interested in any formal economics/statistical study and data of these school districts performance & home prices if it is available anywhere.
Flag Sun Mar 17, 2013
Thanks for all your replies. Like I said I understand that the prices are driven by schools here. But, how sure shot is that? what is the guarantee that they continue to do so? Also, the good school district advocates often paint this dark picture where they believe, there won't be any buyers when you want to for not so good districts even if the house is good, area is decent, even if you find one, you are sure to lose some money. I find it hard to believe it's all so black and white.. any thoughts?
Flag Sun Mar 17, 2013
$600K does not buy one much. Avg priceof SFH in Fremont is over 910K. In Cu expect to pay $1.3 mil for a so so SFH.

Homes in these areas are enjoying 2nd highest historical peak. Since Jan 1, 2013 it is estimated these neighborhoods homes have appreciated ~20%. Town homes and condos are the hardest one to purchase expect to offer a lot more than one is used to during a recovery phase.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 22, 2013

You have posted your question from Fremont, Ca….a city with which I am very familiar. With a population of over 200,000, Fremont is the 4th largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area. Fremont Unified School District has 5 high schools with 5 middle-schools and numerous elementary schools feeding into the high schools.

The academic ratings of the high schools and the feeder schools are not the same across the school district. One high school district is among the highest ranking in the entire state of California. Guess which area has the highest priced homes.

School rankings and academic rankings of schools drives values in our market. Across the Bay Area, the residential areas with the higher performing public schools command the highest home prices in relation to similar homes outside of those school areas.

Astute home buyers pay a premium to have their kids get an excellent public school education knowing that the next set of parents will reward them by paying an even larger premium when it comes time to sell.

You don’t have to send a child to these good schools to reap the benefits of ever increasing value derived by owning in a high performing school district.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 18, 2013
Wow you got a ton of answers, enjoy the responses.... I am not sure if mine will add anything to help you make your decision.

It seems that at this time you do not have children yet and if you have children in 2 or 3 years from now,
their school age of course is another 5 years away from there.... So for yourself schools are obviously
not a real big reason to buy here or there....

Here is my thought for you,,,, do you actually know today if in 7 or 8 years from now you have 2 , 3 or
4 children, do you know today, what type of school you would want for your children, their talents may
be different and the after school activities may be super important to you at that time hm. just think about about it for a while.

Then in 7 or 8 years from now will you still be in the very same home, or will you want to move, or have to move because of job changes????? or because you now would like a different style or size of home, or a bigger yard, or a park nearby etc. etc.

Therefore, you may want at this time buy a home in a neighborhood to your liking at this time in a price range at this time, that is comfortable and reasonable for YOU NOW. In 5 or 6 years when you
see your family life in a brighter light, you can then decide if you need to move because of a different
school district, better for YOUR CHILDREN.

I always tell my clients who are parents, that just because many flock to a certain grade school or high school district does not mean it is the best one for YOUR children, and I can explain further why
that is the case. Feel free to connect with me.

Furthermore realize, one very important item in the pricing, buying and selling of a home....
If you buy in a higher bracket because of the location, the schools or whatever the reasons may be
you will most likely also sell higher down the road.... but since you do not have children yet, why not
buy where you are happy now, save the extra money, so that down the road you have much higher down payment for the bigger home in a higher price area for whatever your reason at that time may be, including the school district.
Hope this helps you....
If you need a recommendation for a good Buyers Agent, and you should work with one, lots of advantages to the buyer, let me know and I gladly send a good recommendation your way.
Good Luck to you

Sincerely yours,
Edith YourRealtor4Life & Chicago, North Shore & Northern Illinois Expert
Working always in the very BEST interest of her clients, Buyers, Sellers and
Investors alike....And always with a SMILE :)

Covering for @Properties Chicago & suburbs, and with her trusted Partner
Agents US & world wide properties. French, German, some Spanish &more or
Check out my website at
Get to know me! Learn about my experience, expertise, services! Read letters
of recommendation! Sign up to search for properties in my expanded service area.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 18, 2013
Awesome!! thank you so much for all the details, certainly very helpful. I am so greatful to see all the responses
Flag Mon Mar 18, 2013
That is a great question. Debra Rose, puts the question into a clearly understandable personal preference category. I prefer mint chocolate chip.

You will find out, however, that this is much more meaningful the personal choice. This weekend (Read where did they find Sheldon? blog) I attended an event in which exceptional students participated in an exceptional event that only select schools can offer. In Palm Harbor, FL, the high schooled, named Palm Harbor University High School is a IB certified school. Focus: Healthcare
The students in the event I attend (watch the video link on my blog) is focused on engineering...of many disciplines.

Being in an exceptional school district IS AS VALUABLE as being on a golf course or close proximity to big water. If you do not golf, are traumatized by big water or have not children to school, the real estate will benefit from this asset anyway. Most parents seeking a real education for the elementary age children will be looking into private schooling.

Your choice is simply to buy into a high value location or a location that meets your immediate requirements and budget. The prevailing wisdom is buying quality always pays off.

Best of success to you,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group, Palm Harbor, FL

Scotsdsale Bluffs Tour:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 18, 2013
Because Debra Rose wrote was I was thinking, I just want to embellish with a few thoughts.

First, we don't know what the future brings, so any speculation on future appreciation is just that - speculation.

Secondly, if you think that it requires a premium to buy in good school districts, think about what it would take to buy into a good school district in seven or eight years when you have children of that age.

Finally, in real estate, the house has some value, but so does the land. It's not a joke that the three most important words in real estate are location x3.

All the best,
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 17, 2013
Thank you for your question:

The school districts with the highest demand do tend to give you the highest rate of appreciation. However if yo udo not have children in school your only benefit is the rate of appreciation and not the school itself.

That is really a personal decision on your part whether or not you want more house for the same amount of money in a school district that has less market demand or whether you want a house with the schools that are in greatest demand.

As I read your question, it sounds to me as if you would prefer to get more house in a neighborhood where the schools are in less demand.

Thank you,
Charles Butterfield MBA
Real Estate Broker/REALTOR
American Realty
Cell Phone: (408)509-6218
Fax: (408)269-3597
Email Address:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 17, 2013
Locally in the SF Bay Area / Silicon Valley, homes in good school districts were hit the least by the economic turn down and recovered the quickest. When there is a prolonged good economy everywhere goes up.
Compare San Jose to Palo Alto

Good school districts are a clear indicator that the local residents care about the success of their kids and that they both have money and are willing to put their money towards helping their kids. They are probably well educated successful neighbors. More and more people want to hang out around successful people. Younger people seem to put even more value on the people around them than the size of their yard.

Economic pressures can drive tremendous changes in neighborhoods. An area that seems forgotten can quickly improve.

There isn't a simple one size fits all answer to your question. Consider if you're hanging out in your neighborhood coffee shop will you make friends with someone starting up a company or someone trying to keep a paying job? Do you want to hang out with neighbors wanting big yards for their family or neighbors who want their family to go get involved outside of their home?

Schools have attracted residents with certain expectations and financial abilities.

Juliana Lee
Top 2 agent nationwide at Keller Williams Realty

Over 30 years experience
Over 1,000 homes sold in Silicon Valley
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 1, 2013
This question is really hard to answer because every market is different. In our area of the county (greater Kansas City) it really matters, for example the price for a 1200-1500 sq. ft. ranch built in the 60’s in areas where there are good schools is averaging 120-180k. In the areas served by the Kansas City, Mo school district this similar home can be bought for 20-30k! This is an extreme example and the KC school district did lose state accreditation, but as the rebound in real estate has begun the areas with the best schools continue to thrive. The mentality goes like this; if you have kids you want the best for them no matter what it cost hence values with good schools climb faster than other areas. The trick for making the right decision may be to find the next up & coming area, think long term and set roots in that market. Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 18, 2013

I would ask you to ask yourself, why so many people both with and without children have "good schools" as one of their top search criteria. The fact of the matter is that there are differences in districts, programs, staff, and otherwise.

The reality is, however, like you, not all people have the same priorities. I would offer you this observation....that is that there are many people that acquire the appreciation for a good school district "after the fact" and find themselves in a position of selling and rebuying in locations that meet their newly acquired needs.

Make no mistake.....not all schools or school districts are created equal.

Bill Eckler
Superintendent of Schools(retired)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 18, 2013
tanya, to try and reply to some of the comments you made to me.............this isn't really a black and white issue - it's not like there are "great" school districts, and "bad " ones...with nothing in between....there are a lot of ranges (gray areas) of great... to good...... to average...and down the chain.

Also. much depends on what the criteria are for making this decision of great versus average, or "bad".
As you know, stats can be manipulated.

Also - this idea of buying into a more expensive town has more than just, imo, the schools as the basis of the price point.
Snob appeal also contributes to the "higher priced" towns being higher priced.
I will say that here, the more espensive towns have really good schools, consistantly ranked high on any list, but also offer other attractive incentives.

No one can tell you which would be the better investment over time.........but, here, I have seen those "higher end" areas retain more value during the downturn.
Again - you need to speak with local agents if you really want a price comparison - and they can get that information for you - to show how the areas you are discussing have fared over the past few years.

I can't speak for your area, but by me, the highest prices do happen to be in towns in which the school districts rank high on the list, no matter what the criteria might be.
Other things, however, also factor into those higher prices (for example, in my area buying into a "train town" with proximity to the direct train into Manhattan adds value, and those towns sell at a premium ) it's not always about just the schools.

Bottom line - there will be buyers for all areas..........but.......if you pay less now, remember you will get less down the road when it's time to sell. Everything is relative..
Buy based on what matters to you.

Good luck!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 18, 2013
Thank you so much for a detailed reply. I really appreciate it. Puts things in perspective
Flag Mon Mar 18, 2013
Schools are very important. Even though the houses might be smaller and old, at least you'll know your kids (if any) will have a better education.

Priorities and locations have been frequently mentioned because it's not just school zones that drive up home prices.

For example, Willow Glen High school has an API of 770 :…

That is just okay and the homes in the area are older and smaller but a 3bed/2baths in the area can command ~$600K+. Whats there is a more desirable downtown and atmosphere.

It is all in your priorities...
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 17, 2013
It depends on your priorities. If being in the best school district does not excite you then buy in a different area.

The reality here is that the economy in the Bay Area is driven by high-tech. High-tech employs thousands of highly educated people. Highly educated people care for the education for their children. This will drive property prices up in the most desirable school districts to the top of the affordability level.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 17, 2013
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2016 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer