Austin School Quality and Real Estate Values

One of South Austin’s last remaining new home neighborhoods, Olympic Heights, with homes (new and resale) priced below $200,000 is about to get a shot in the arm due to a favorable shift in the elementary school it attends. Olympic Heights kids may now attend the “Exemplary” rated Baranoff Elementary. Many young families intentionally seek out homes in areas that attend “Exemplary” and “Recognized” rated elementary schools over the lesser “Acceptable” rated schools. The problem is that homes attending these higher rated schools are typically too expensive for young families.

Sylvia spoke with an administrator at Baranoff Elementary and she confirmed that Olympic Heights will officially be in the Baranoff attendance zone as of 2008. Families can be transferred in early for the year 2007 by requesting a transfer from the central Austin ISD office. Since Baranoff is a “closed” campus, which means they do not accept transfer students, anyone from Olympic Heights must write on their transfer form “Olympic Heights Resident” and their transfer will be automatically accepted. There will be no bus service from Olympic Heights in 2007, so families must drive themselves. Bus service will begin with the 2008 school year. Olympic Heights currently attends the “Acceptable” rated Menchaca Elementary.

As the school switch becomes better known, I believe it will create additional demand for homes in Olympic Heights, and help the values in that neighborhood rise more than they would otherwise. We’ve sold 3 homes recently in Olympic Heights, and continue to recommend it as a neighborhood that should appreciate well in coming years.

So, have Realtors been paying attention and making sure to point out this very good news in their real estate listings for Olympic Heights? If a Buyer’s agent is performing a search for listings that attend Exemplary Rated Baranoff Elementary, will listings from Olympic Heights show up?

Out of the 17 active listings in Olympic Heights, 2 listings show Baranoff as the elementary school. Congratulations to those two Realtors for being on top of things! Those two listings are the only two that show up priced below $225K (both are below $200K in fact) in a search for homes that attend Baranoff Elementary.

Out of 7 active lease listings in Olympic Heights, none have Baranoff listed as the Elementary. The agents who are not marketing this valuable piece of information are missing out on an opportunity to make their listings more appealing to families with kids and/or investors who desire homes that attend the better schools.

This brings up another question. Since school boundaries do shift in order to accommodate population and demographic changes over time, does purchasing a home within favorable school boundaries insure that your home will always attend that better school? Not necessarily. There is no guaranty, especially if you purchase a home near the edges of the boundaries instead of firmly planted in the middle of the neighborhood. For example, if you buy a home two blocks from the new Rooster Springs Elementary in Belterra, I can’t think of any circumstance that would detach that home from that elementary. But if you buy a home on the outer edge, on the last street of a particular boundary, you need to consider whether or not the boundary might make a negative shift in the future, such as happened with Bowie High neighborhoods when the new (and poor performing) Akins High was built several years ago.

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