Purchasing your dream home in Oregon or Washington involves more than just the open house walk-through. Even if you find the perfect space for you and your family, you may need to do more investigating. School districts and communities are really important things to consider before making an offer on a home. But, how do you go about making wise decisions regarding these things without knowing anyone nearby to ask?
When purchasing a home, it’s a good idea to spend just as much time checking out school districts as it is looking at the ensuite. Even if you don’t have school-age children, the school district your new home is located in can drastically affect your resale value and can influence prospective future buyers. Here are some easy ways to find the very best school system in which to buy a home.
Check Out School Digger & Great Schools
To start, get online and begin researching schools near where you’d like to move. Whether you’re headed to Portland, Oregon or you’d like to look at homes near Vancouver, Washington, you should familiarize yourself with School Digger.com and Great Schools.org. School Digger has been used by over forty million people and gives you access to public school rankings for free. All you have to do is get on the website and select your state. Once you have selected your state, a list of school districts will appear. From there, you can see the average standard test score, the student to teacher ratio, and the percentage of students eligible for free lunches.
Great Schools is really similar and reviews private schools in addition to public ones. On this website, you can see school ratings on an interactive map and can read real reviews. By using these simple tools, you can begin to get a good idea of the best school district to buy a home in.
Ask Your Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents are your best friends when looking for a new home. Agents are extremely knowledgeable regarding school districts. While looking at homes, get comfortable with your agent and don’t hesitate to ask questions. “Your first conversation about schools should be with your real estate agent,” moving.com explains, “who can provide information on local neighborhoods and the choice of schools your children might attend, whether public or private.”
Utilize Social Media
These days, everyone is taking to Twitter to live-tweet the Oscars or ask about the best double stroller for their toddler. Why can’t you reach out to total strangers and ask about school systems? It may sound silly, but reaching out to other parents on social media may surprise you. To find out about different school districts, ask questions in a parent group on Facebook or use hashtags to find relevant topics on Twitter.
Although this is a fun way to learn about different areas, make sure to consider all of the opinions you come across and use this information to simply add to your own more in-depth research.
Ask Future Neighbors
It may seem old school (pun intended), but going door to door and asking questions is an efficient and candid way to find out about your prospective neighborhood. When looking for your perfect home, it’s suggested that you visit those living next door and ask questions. So while I don’t recommend canvassing a neighborhood, you can go on a casual walk around the ‘hood and ask anyone you happen to see out while you’re there.
In addition to finding out about the school district, you’ll also learn about local crime and other community events. If you don’t end up learning any information, you’ll at least have met a new friend to wave to when you get home after a long day at work.
Visit Different Schools
Once you’ve done a lot of research and have dwindled your list down to a few areas, it’s time to hop in the car and visit. Most schools are more than accommodating and welcome visitors. Just look up the phone number for the districts you’re interested in and ask if you can spend an afternoon observing.
Andrew J. Rotherham on behalf of TIME explained that he and his wife visited some different schools while finding the best fit for his kids. What they learned surprised them! “our sit-in approach quickly eliminated the most coveted public school near our house because its administrators forbid classroom visits except during the comically inept tours the schools gives.” While on the tours, take notes and check-in with your partner afterward to talk about your findings.
Try to relax, you will eventually determine the best school district to buy a home in and can move forward with your home purchase. Fingers crossed you’ll become a Portland resident in no time and you’ll relax knowing your kids are receiving the best education possible.
About Bryn Huntpalmer
Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas, where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize and nurtures her HGTV obsession. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Decor and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker, Scary Mommy, About.com and on her personal blog Her Own Wings. For home design information and tips check out Modernize!
Note: This is a guest post and the views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate.