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How To Research Schools Before Buying A Home

How To Research Schools Before Buying A Home

“How’re the schools around here?” It’s a question I’ve been asked countless times but, as a state-licensed real estate professional, one that I’m not legally allowed to answer. Yet for home buyers, the quality of a school district is often a make-or-break factor. 

So in an effort to help my clients, I prefer to arm them with information they need to make an informed decision. Here are four suggestions I’ve offered those who ask. 

  1. Compare schools at www.GreatSchools.org. The website, run by a not-for-profit organization, offers detailed information about student test scores, paths taken by graduates, demographics and community reviews. GreatSchools.org also “grades” each school with an easy-to-understand rating based on test scores. Private schools are included.
  2. Check Facebook. While most school districts maintain official Facebook pages, you’ll often find community-run pages. Be aware that the page may be a big b!%ch-session by frustrated parents, but it can also tip you off to major issues in the district. Community members may also answer your posted questions. 
  3. Schedule a meeting with administrators. Many school officials will gladly arrange a meeting and give you a tour of the campus. When my family made a move recently, we met with school officials at Cheltenham, Abington, Jenkintown and Springfield Township high schools. We met with some for more than an hour. The information we gathered was a huge factor in helping us make the decision we did. 
  4. Arrange for your child to shadow a student. Most schools we contacted before our recent move encouraged my son to shadow students for a portion of the school day. This can be especially important if you have an older child whom you want to be part of the decision-making process. Jenkintown High School was the only district we contacted that wouldn’t permit my son to shadow a student. I’d recommend contacting the school anyway to inquire whether the policy has changed. 

Keep in mind, each school has its pros and cons and may not be a right fit for every child. That’s why it makes sense for real estate pros to avoid commenting on schools. Our expertise are in real estate –not education. So its important to take time to research a school district before beginning your home search. 

If you have any questions, call or text Jeff Chirico at 267-888-5558 or email Jeff@ThisIsPaLiving.com. 

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