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The relationship between home buying and school systems

By Dave Parrish

There’s an old adage in real estate that I’m sure you know well: The three most important things in real estate are location, location and location.

There are several things that contribute to location; however, chief among those is the school district and sometimes even the specific school that serves a particular address. That is such a strong criteria for home buyers that searches most often begin by school system rather than geographic area or zip code. I know that the search functionality on my website is built with that fact in mind.

It should come as no surprise then that homes in “good” school systems are in higher demand than homes in “poor” school systems. It directly follows then that the school system associated with a home, in turn, is one of the features of a home that contributes greatly to a home’s market value.

This begs the question: “What makes a good school system or promotes the perception of quality schools?”

While there is a plethora of materials and research attempting to answer this question, I will be so bold as to narrow the discussion down to two groups of qualities: Performance and infrastructure.

The performance-based criteria include such items as test scores, graduation rates and scholarship awards. Infrastructure includes those things that cost money and that are invariably linked (directly or indirectly) to performance, things such as facilities (especially permanent structures), resource materials, reference and research library resources, enrichment programs, and even non-academic programs.

This brings me to the discussion of taxes and the proposal to raise the ad valorem tax in Trussville.

Raising taxes is rarely popular. Some may not feel the necessity of raising taxes for schools, perhaps because they do not have children in our schools. Others may simply be sickened at the thought of paying any additional tax regardless of its purpose. However, there is another way to think about the seven-millage increase in property taxes. Raising the ad valorem tax is akin to buying investment protection for the value of your home.

May the market be with you.

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