Home Buyers Forego Garages for School Districts

JULY 24, 2018, ,

  • housing schools78 percent of buyers in their preferred school district gave up home features to get there
  • Most common compromises include a garage, large backyard, and updated kitchen
  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents say good schools were important to their search

 Today’s seller’s market is forcing buyers to make compromises, but new survey [1] data shows buyers remain steadfast in their desire for their preferred good school districts. In fact, they are willing to give up two of their most desired home features — a garage and updated kitchen — to get into the right school district they want.

Most buyers understand that they may not be able to find a home that covers every single item on their wish list, but our survey shows that school districts are an area where many buyers aren’t willing to compromise. For many buyers and not just buyers with children, “location, location, location,” means “schools, schools, schools.”

Three-quarters of respondents indicated schools were important in their search

The majority of successful buyers surveyed, 73 percent, indicated that school boundaries were important to their search, with 39 percent indicating very important and 34 percent important. Only 18 percent said they were unimportant or very unimportant, and 9 percent of buyers were neutral on the question.

The desire for particular schools varied significantly by life stage and age. Ninety-one percent of buyers with children said that school boundaries were important or very important, compared to 34 percent of those without children. Similarly, younger buyers were more likely to say that schools were important. Eighty-four percent of those 35-54 years old and 86 percent of those 18-34 years old indicated they were important, compared to 37 percent of buyers 55-plus. More than half of older buyers 55-plus said school boundaries were unimportant or very unimportant.

Buyers compromise on their top home features for good schools

Seventy-eight percent of buyers for whom schools were important and who were able to get into their preferred district said they had to compromise on home features; 22 percent did not. The features they most commonly reported giving up were a garage (19 percent), a large backyard (18 percent), an updated kitchen (17 percent), desired number of bedrooms (17 percent), and an outdoor living area (16 percent). According to realtor.com’s spring home buyer survey a garage was the No. 1 feature home buyers were looking for this year, followed by an updated kitchen, and an open floor plan.

Older buyers were less likely to say they had to compromise with 42 percent of buyers 55-plus reporting they made no compromises, compared to 21 percent of 35-54 year-old buyers and 17 percent of buyers aged 18-34.

Buyers define good schools by test scores and accelerated programs

Test scores were the factor most often selected by buyers as a hallmark of a good school (59 percent), followed by having accelerated programs (53 percent), arts and music (49 percent), diversity (43 percent), and before- and after-school programs (41 percent).

Younger buyers were more likely than older buyers to cite diversity as a factor that makes for a good school — 49 percent for 18-34 year-olds, compared to 37 percent for 55-plus. More older buyers placed importance on whether a school has accelerated programs — 62 percent for 55-plus vs. 50 percent for buyers under 55.

Buyers looking for homes in a specific district or school boundary, can search specifically within these parameters on realtor.com.® Buyers simply enter the name of a school or district into the search box on the realtor.com® home page. Homes within the area are then presented on a map with a “pin” showing the school name and location.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the importance recent buyers placed on schools, many home shoppers are already using this feature to look for homes.  Below we’ve compiled a list of the most searched for schools based on home searches using the school search feature on realtor.com in 2018.

Most Searched Schools 2018 (year to date)

StateElementary SchoolCitySecondary SchoolCity
AlaskaPearl Creek Elementary SchoolFairbanksColony High SchoolPalmer
AlabamaMt Laurel Elementary SchoolBirminghamOak Mt High SchoolBirmingham
ArkansasDon Roberts Elementary SchoolLittle RockBentonville High SchoolBentonville
ArizonaCimarron Springs Elementary SchoolSurpriseCatalina Foothills High SchoolTucson
CaliforniaCordelia Hills Elementary SchoolFairfieldClovis North High SchoolFresno
ColoradoCheyenne Mountain Elementary SchoolColorado SpringsCherry Creek High SchoolGreenwood Village
ConnecticutKing’s Highway Elementary SchoolWestportConnecticut Friends SchoolWilton
District of ColumbiaJanney Elementary SchoolWashingtonWilson High SchoolWashington
DelawareNorth Star Elementary SchoolHockessinCaesar Rodney High SchoolCamden
FloridaMckitrick Elementary SchoolLutzPlant High SchoolTampa
GeorgiaHeards Ferry Elementary SchoolAtlantaBrookwood High SchoolSnellville
HawaiiWaikele Elementary SchoolWaipahuWaimea Country SchoolKamuela
IowaOrange Elementary SchoolWaterlooPleasant Valley High SchoolBettendorf
IdahoPurple Sage Elementary SchoolCaldwellBoise Senior High SchoolBoise
IllinoisSouth Loop Elementary SchoolChicagoAdlai E Stevenson High SchoolLincolnshire
IndianaYorktown Elementary SchoolYorktownCarroll High SchoolFort Wayne
KansasPiper Elementary SchoolKansas CityOlathe Northwest High SchoolOlathe
KentuckyGoshen At Hillcrest Elementary SchoolProspectKentucky School For The BlindLouisville
LouisianaMilton Elementary SchoolLafayetteDutchtown High SchoolGeismar
MassachusettsWest Elementary SchoolPlymouthCape Cod Lighthouse Charter SchoolHarwich
MarylandYouths Benefit Elementary SchoolFallstonBroadneck High SchoolAnnapolis
MaineSouth Hiram Elementary SchoolHiramMaine Coast Waldorf SchoolFreeport
MichiganDye Elementary SchoolFlint TownshipHartland High SchoolHartland
MinnesotaLiberty Ridge Elementary SchoolWoodburyWayzata High SchoolPlymouth
MissouriMount Hope Elementary SchoolO’FallonLindbergh Sr. High SchoolSt Louis
MississippiLewisburg Elementary SchoolOlive BranchLewisburg High SchoolOlive Branch
MontanaRattlesnake Elementary SchoolMissoulaBillings West High SchoolBillings
North CarolinaSternberger Elementary SchoolGreensboroNorthwest Guilford High SchoolGreensboro
North DakotaMls-Mohall Elementary SchoolMohallFargo Davies High SchoolFargo
NebraskaSheridan Elementary SchoolLincolnMillard West High SchoolOmaha
New HampshireWilliam T. Barron Elementary SchoolSalemExeter High SchoolExeter
New JerseyLong Beach Island Elementary SchoolShip BottomNew Jersey Virtual SchoolTinton Falls
New MexicoNorth Star Elementary SchoolAlbuquerqueLa Cueva High SchoolAlbuquerque
NevadaBrown Elementary SchoolRenoLake Tahoe SchoolIncline Village
New YorkSchuylerville Elementary SchoolSchuylervilleMinisink Valley High SchoolMiddletown
OhioOhio Avenue Elementary SchoolColumbusJackson High SchoolMassillon
OklahomaSoutheast Elementary SchoolJenksDeer Creek High SchoolEdmond
OregonSisters Elementary SchoolSistersLincoln High SchoolPortland
PennsylvaniaKiski Area Upper Elementary SchoolApolloHempfield Area Senior High SchoolGreensburg
Rhode IslandGreenbush Elementary SchoolWest WarwickNorth Providence High SchoolNorth Providence
South CarolinaRudolph Gordon Elementary SchoolSimpsonvilleWren High SchoolPiedmont
South DakotaSioux Falls Christian Elementary SchoolSioux FallsStevens High School – 42Rapid City
TennesseeHardin Valley Elementary SchoolKnoxvilleFarragut High SchoolKnoxville
TexasLakewood Elementary SchoolDallasLovejoy High SchoolLucas
UtahDraper Elementary SchoolDraperOlympus High SchoolSalt Lake City
VirginiaWaynewood Elementary SchoolAlexandriaCosby High SchoolMidlothian
VermontBarre Town Elementary SchoolBarreVermont Commons SchoolSouth Burlington
WashingtonHutton Elementary SchoolSpokaneWashington State School For The DeafVancouver
WisconsinGifford Elementary SchoolRacineArrowhead High SchoolHartland
West VirginiaCheat Lake Elementary SchoolMorgantownWest Virginia School For The BlindRomney
WyomingSaddle Ridge Elementary SchoolCheyenneCentral High SchoolCheyenne
[1] The online survey was conducted earlier this month by Harris Research of more than 1,000 people who closed on a home in 2018.