Home Buying in Zionsville>Question Details

Peng Yu, Home Buyer in 46204

Which one to choose: a house with a grea view & great floor plan vs a good house in a better school district

Asked by Peng Yu, 46204 Fri May 2, 2008

My wife and I found a house that is near 88th street (Pike Township) in Indy. It has a very nice view and a great floor plan. It was built near 2000 but still in a good condition. We also found another house in a better school distict. it was built after 2004, with more brick walls as well. But the view and floor plan of the house in a good school district are not as nice as the other one. Given the fact that they are in a similar price range, do you have any suggestions on which one to choose (e.g., in terms of appreciation, resale, and safety) ?

Thanks in advance!!

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The temptation is to say that you always want the better school system. But as Don points out, good, better, best is rather subjective.

And I'll point out one aspect of "better school district" that Don didn't mention. School districts change. Sometimes cities will "redistrict" you, and suddenly you find yourself going to a school 19 blocks away, when there's a school only 4 blocks the other direction. Or, the year after you buy your home, the principal, at the "Better" school retires, and when the new principal takes over, there's an exodus of teachers ('cause they don't like him), and suddenly "better" isn't so good anymore.

If the school district in the house with the view and the better floor plan is a decent one, I would opt for that one. The good view and the floorplan will be good resale features, and who knows... if you get involved in the PTA at the school, the local schools may improve with your help.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
MVP'08
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You can't do much about a school district. Views and floor plans can always be improved on in time.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008
What I'm going to say may be heresy for some people here. Nevertheless . . .

A "better school district" isn't necessarily as good as it's cracked up to be. As we've discussed in many other threads, first, there are different definitions of what makes a "good" school district. And it's not just Realtors who should know that there isn't a single definition of a "good" school district. I've read postings here from parents who want their kids to attend racially or ethnically diverse schools. I've read others from parents who don't. (And just for the record, my son attends a racially and ethnically diverse public school.)

Some folks judge a "good" school district by the amount of money spent per pupil. But that's not always the best indicator. And here's a thought: some parents want their kids to attend a good state school. Here in Fairfax County, which many consider to have very good schools, the ratio of kids from Fairfax County admitted to Virginia universities (University of Virginia, William and Mary, and others) is much, much lower than kids from elsewhere in Virginia because those schools try to balance enrollment. Otherwise, most kids at UVA might be from Northern Virginia. That's turned into a real drawback around here. And one other example, again drawing on Fairfax County. My son went to an elementary school in the County, a school with a great reputation. Well, at the time it had an incompetent principal--narrow minded, opinionated, and dishonest. It was a terrible experience. So even great school districts can have really bad schools. (The school improved substantially after that principal left.)

And let's discuss "better" for a moment. Let's say you decide that SAT scores are a measure of "better." Let's say kids in one school district average 1,900 and kids in the next school district average 1,850. Well, the first district may be "better," but is it significant enough to affect your choice?

OK, so maybe we can agree that ranking school districts is a tricky business.

Meanwhile, my wife and I have been fairly active in school activities and PTA. Not as active as many parents, but active enough to keep close tabs on what's happening in the school, and active enough to help shape what goes on there.
Now, keep in mind that if you don't have children, and don't plan to have any, or yours are already grown, then school districts may matter less. It could affect resale value if many new buyers have kids. However, if education of your children is moot, then it may not be a critical issue. I have a close relative who doesn't have children. She recently bought a house, and selected one she liked in a neighborhood she liked. She doesn't know or care about the local schools.

Beyond that, remember (speaking here as a parent) that kids are shaped, formed, and educated by far more than what goes on in a classroom. Yes, a quality school is important. But my kid spends 6 hours in school and 18 hours outside of school 180 days a year. During those 180 days, we talk with him, play games with him, and just spend quality time with him. When he was younger, we read to him and helped him with homework. Now that he's older, we have great discussion and debates with him. During those days when he's not in school, we might take him places. We visit relatives. We go to museums. He takes classes in karate and grappling. (Before you start talking about all that costing money, it does cost some. But he's worked enough at karate and grappling that he now helps out at a local studio and gets his lessons at no charge.) Some of his friends with licenses work, and they're learning good life lessons along the way.

The point is: Kids are not shaped just by the 6 hours they spend in school for 180 days a year. Home environment and parental involvement count for far more.

Sure, if all other things were equal--home style, price, nearby amenities, length of commute, tax rates in the two jurisdictions (to pay for those schools)--I'd probably choose the house in a "better" school district, based on my own definition of what a "better" school district is. But those other things are never equal. So, "better" schools are one factor to consider, but only one.

Hope that helps.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
MVP'08
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Great Question Peng!
I'm with Allison. By the sounds of things you are buying the house as a home. A define a house as a product that sole purpose is to resell for a profit. A home is were you live. Make memories and helps better your lifestyle.

In the long run (especially when buying now) all homes will go up in value. How much, how long? If it is your home these are important questions but not the most important. Real Estate purchases today focus is to much on $$$ and not enough on what the home will do for you.

I say this not to cause anger but to remind (like I do my clients) that a few dollars does not matter when your happy. Ever get a good deal on a pair of shoes you could not wear? In the long run was it a good deal?

Again I do think it is a great question. I live in Pike at 79th and New Augusta. Good luck with your search and if you need some help with financing please let me know. Plenty of great programs to take advantage ot today.

Best of Luck again,
Tony Grego - Indiana Mortgage Company
Web Reference: http://www.sagamorehm.net
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008
The three rules of real estate: Location,Location,Location. Pick your school system first. The list of benefits is endless. Then, look for a floorplan that suits your needs. Have your cake and eat it too. Or, you can always change a floorplan or add on later. You cannot change a bad location. With the inventory of available homes for sale in todays market, given enough time, you should be able to find what your looking for in a good school district.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat May 3, 2008
Do what makes you happy. A great school district won't make up for unhappy parents.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri May 2, 2008
You have several options, and your final decision will be based on several factors:
1)if you buy in a "not as good" school district, can you afford to send your children to private schools? Sometimes the savings on the home plus savings on taxes might end up being about what it would cost you to send your kids to a private school.
2)If the home is a great deal, even in a "not so good school district', it can still be a good value if you purchased at the right price.

example: I lived in Zionsville for 9 years, we needed a larger home this past year. I couldn't resist some of the prices out there right now in this buyers market. Found a perfect home in Pike, about 30 feet outside of Zionsville for a steal I couldn't pass up. Our kids go to private school, so it was a slam dunk.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 12, 2008
A great school district will help for resale, but a bad floor plan is a bad floor plan. Is it really a bad floor plan or do you just prefer the other homes plan better?? Take an honest step back and if it really isn't a great floor plan, you might have trouble when you go to sell. A great view will be a better selling point than a odd floor plan.

Good luck... I know I didn't give you much help, but this is really your call and the more agents that respond the more different answeres you will get!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 2, 2008
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