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Field Guide to Schools and the Home Buying Decision

(Updated August 2014)

Of all the local neighborhood amenities that can influence a buyer's decision to purchase a home, proximity to good quality schools is one of the most influential. According to the 2014 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 29% of home buyers listed school quality and 22% listed proximity to schools as deciding factors in their home purchase. This field guide includes articles and studies on the importance of schools for home buyers and how schools impact local property values, along with a sampling of websites that provide data on school districts.  (C. Dodge, Information Specialist)

Q - ProQuest articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the ProQuest/Find Articles page.

Schools an​d the Home Buying Decision

The good school-expensive home dilemma, (The Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2014).

Affording a House in a Highly Ranked School Zone? It’s Elementary, (Redfin, Sept. 25, 2013).

Survey Finds School Boundaries Play Major Role in Home Buying, (Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS®, Aug. 1, 2013). 

Back-to-School Home Search Tips, (realtor.com®, July 30, 2013). 

Weighing the Importance of School Districts When Purchasing a Home, (NFM Lending, June 12, 2013). 

Research Schools Before Buying a Home, (ActiveRain, Oct. 29, 2010).

How to Evaluate Schools Before Making Your Homebuying Decision, (New Homes Guide, Aug. 31, 2010).

Impact of Schools on Property Values

The Right School District: How Much Do Schools Affect Real Estate Prices?, (realtor.com®, Aug., 2013).

Study: $50 More Per Square Foot for Homes Near Good Schools, (REALTOR® Magazine, Sept. 26, 2013). 

Schools and Real Estate Values, (bubbleinfo.com, June 27, 2010). 

One Antidote to Foreclosures: Good Schools, (The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 16, 2011). 

Do Schools Really Affect Property Values?, (BiggerPockets, Apr. 6, 2011).

Good Schools, Bad Real Estate, (Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2010).

Do good schools or good neighbors raise property values?, (UCLA / Dartmouth College, Apr. 2004).

Schools: What​ to Consider When Selecting a Home

The school visit: what to look for, what to ask, (GreatSchools, n.d.).

Class Struggle: 10 Ways to Pick the Right Public School District, (The Washington Post, Sept. 26, 2009).

How to Find Good Schools When You Move, (Demo Analytics, Aug. 16, 2013).

Public Schools — A Toolkit for REALTORS® , (National Association of REALTORS®, 2012).

Reading, writing, and real estate: REALTORS® working to improve public education, (On Common Ground, Winter 2005).

Knowing the community before selecting a new home, (University of Illinois Extension Fact Sheet, 2001).

School Quality Information on the Web

There are numerous sources on the Web offering data on schools and school districts. The reports they provide vary in detail and cost, but almost always have useful information for home buyers and REALTORS®. The following are a few sample websites:

National Center for Education Statistics

The center publishes information on all levels of education, from preschool to graduate school.

Priva​te companies

A listing of private companies around the U.S. that provide reports on school districts is available on the Open Directory Project.

State and loca​l sources

Many states and local areas also make their school district info available online. Websites of the state departments of education are a good start, along with those of local newspapers. For example:

eBooks & Other Resources


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Community Builders: A Tale of Neighborhood Mobilization in Two Cities (Adobe eReader)

Community by Design: New Urbanism for Suburbs and Small Communities (Adobe eReader)

Community Conversations: Mobilizing the Ideas, Skills, and Passion of Community Organizations, Governments, Businesses, and People (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Defending Community: The Struggle for Alternative Redevelopment in Cedar-Riverside (Adobe eReader)

In The Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Love Your Neighborhood (Adobe eReader)

The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Home Buying Checklists, (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Tips & Traps When Buying a Home, (Kindle, OverDrive, Adobe eReader)

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to the Best Places to Live

Field Guide to Commuting and the Homebuying Decision

Field Guide to Social Benefits of Homeownership

Information Services Blog

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.