From an actual email:
. . . Do you have any information on which schools and which school districts are the best in Chandler or Gilbert or any other nearby areas? . . .
On the surface, this sounds like an easy question to answer. But if you kick back and ponder it a moment, it's really not a simple answer.
First, a licensed real estate agent has to be extremely careful to avoid steering, which can be defined as:
The illegal practice of directing home seekers to particular areas either to maintain the homogeneity of an area or to change the character of an area, which limits where they can live.
Providing an opinion on what schools are good and bad could be construed as steering. Some may say that is not so. Personally, I am not willing to risk my license to find out.
EDITED TO ADD: Don't think saying a school is "good" or "bad" could be construed as steering? Read this article, which contains info on a brokerage being sued for Fair Housing violations — mainly due to agents offering opinion on “good” vs “bad” schools….
Another issue with answering any "what is best" type of question is this — everyone has a different definition of "best". In regard to schools, best may mean best test scores, lowest student/teacher ratios, small class sizes, extracurricular activities offered, lowest drop out rates, etc. My idea of best may not line up with your idea.
So how do we answer such a question? I provide clients and prospects (and pretty much anyone that asks) with resources so they can collect information and make a decision. Now I have heard some agents and brokers say that we can not give out resources for information to clients. The technical term for that belief is "Bullhockey". We are (or should be) a clients number one resource in everything regarding their real estate transaction. That is what we do.
You want school information to help you determine the best school for you? Here are some suggestions:
- If at all possible, make an appointment to visit the school. If you can visit when school is in session, all the better. See with your own eyes what is going on. Talk to the principal. I haven't met one yet that will refuse to speak to the caregiver of a prospective student.
- Maybe you are out of state and can't physically visit. The Internet is a wealth of information. Just keep in mind that statistics never tell the full story. Look for your state's Department of Education site. Look for individual school district sites. Many schools themselves have their own websites.
- GreatSchools.net is an interesting resource. It includes parent (and even a few student) reviews of many, but not all, schools. I personally wouldn't exclude a school based on a bad parent review — I suspect Harvard and MIT get occasional bad reviews. But consistent poor reviews are certainly a warning flag.
School boundary questions also frequently come up. We have East Valley school boundary maps available at ThompsonsRealty.com. However, maps can be inaccurate and boundaries change – particularly in rapidly growing communities like we have in the East Valley. Never put blind faith in a boundary map. If a specific school is a concern, always always ALWAYS get confirmation from the school district about what schools serve a specific address.
There you have it. Research is the key. There are a lot of on-line resources available, but nothing beats an in-person visit to the school(s).
Arizona and Phoenix East Valley school resources:
Arizona Department of Education
Gilbert School District
Chandler School District
Kyrene (Tempe) School District
Mesa School District
Our School Boundary Maps
Others Opine: Real Estate Attorney Weighs In On Steering And Schools Controversy
[tags]Good schools, real estate steering[/tags]