When looking for a home, not everyone has the same search criteria. Some want extra bedrooms, hardwood flooring, or south-facing exposure. But as a parent, you’ll be asking a few important other questions: How close is this home to a school? Where are the best schools in proximity to this location?
It may not the first thing you think of while learning the dimensions of your master bathroom, but the quality and proximity of schools will affect your child’s life—which means your life—for a dozen years.
Here are a few things you can do (and a few questions you can ask) to ensure you’re keeping schools as a priority in your real estate search:
Talk to your real estate agent
First of all, if you’ve done your research in employing a competent agent, they should be knowledgeable of local neighbourhoods. Be sure to ask about school districts, both public and private, to give you an understanding of your options, should you choose a certain home.
Be sure to ask about price. Are you willing to pay more to be near a top school? Prices may reflect the nearby schools, so consider how much more you’d be willing to dish out in order for your child to be within walking distance of school, or to be in the right district. A block or two can make a world of difference in terms of price.
Once you know the schools in the area, it’s best to contact them directly. Districts can change (and do more frequently than you think), so it’s best to speak with them on anything from bus routes to possible upcoming rezoning. You can also determine if the second-closest school is also worthwhile, as rezoning could send your children there in future years.
Do your research
There are plenty of online resources that will rate schools, show districts, and have feedback from local parents. It’s also important to crosscheck what your agent and the school are both saying.
Also, if you’re in the Toronto area, check out Scholarhood.ca, a site dedicated to pairing real estate with schools. Scholarhood was designed to help house hunters in finding school rankings and locations while looking for their next home. It maps out all of Toronto’s school districts, and uses data from the Fraser Influence and the Education Quality and Accountability Office to rank schools accurately.
You can also do a reverse search; if there’s a school you really want your child to attend, you can look for homes nearby, and find out neighbourhood info, including average home prices.
Essentially, school information while house hunting is readily available if you just do a bit of digging and a bit of asking. If you already know what you want or need more information on the mortgage side of things, you can always compare mortgage rates over on RateHub.ca.
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