Real Estate and Report Cards: How School Districts Affect Housing

The school system is so broken

Everyone wants to live in a highly rated school district, but not everyone can afford that anymore in Tarrant County.

Yes “location, location, location” is still the first thing that comes out of a buyer’s mouth when asked what’s important in their next home.  The second is typically, “We want to live in a good school district!”

Of course, as a licensed real estate sales professionals, we are gagged and bound by money-taking governmental bodies that forbid us from giving facts, figures, or opinions on local schools and school districts.  But thanks to the World Wide Interweb it’s not that difficult to find.

Recently, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released the 2018 D/FW School District Accountability Ratings, and it’s very telling in regards to real estate.

Can You Guess?

Based on a new criteria, school districts across the Lone Start state were given a letter grade of A to F.  Here is what those letter grades mean:

A = Exemplary

B = Recognized

C = Acceptable

D = Needs Improvement

F = Unacceptable

Wow … how far have we come as an educated society when a “C” is seen as something to accept.  Weep for the future!

As this is Tarrant County Tuesday, so let’s look at how the larger school districts of Tarrant County fared.

For those of you Dirty Readers who know Tarrant County, do you see a pattern?

The school districts that received an “A” or “B” for overall rating are located fairly close to one another, are newer school districts with many planned communities and developments.  Let’s call them “The Burbs.”

Those districts that received “acceptable” (if you want to accept a “C”) are in close proximity to one another and are the two largest ones — Fort Worth ISD and Arlington ISD.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm …

What really surprised me when I started digging into the school tax rate is that many of the higher-rated districts have relatively low tax rate on property values whereas the highest rate ($1.67 per $100 valued) belong to the two lowest rated districts.

The most sought-after areas in Tarrant County to live are Keller, Southlake (Carroll), Mansfield, Grapevine, Colleyville … see another pattern?

Highly rated school districts attract people wanting to live in those districts, which creates a supply-and-demand problem where prices of homes and land increase because there is competition. Amazing!

(By the way, I went to Boerne ISD, which is rated with an “A,” so I guess I am pretty smart … now what I learned is a different story.)

It’s not rocket science.  It’s not even about throwing money at the issue- as shown that poorer districts given money hasn’t helped their rating or real estate – if you build it, they will come

The Rest of North Texas

Once again, not surprisingly, North Texas schools on the other side of D/FW Metroplex also had mixed results.

Aledo, Highland Park, Allen — all football powerhouse schools with “A” ratings. DeSoto ISD? Not so much.

The Plano-Frisco-Allen-McKinney corridor along Interstate 75 is absolutely blowing up in terms of real estate and sky-rocketing home prices.  They also happen to have highly rated school districts.

Interestingly enough, the old argument of, “School districts that only want to win football championships don’t care about academics,” isn’t quite true.  Aledo, Allen, and Highland Park are frequently hoisting trophies for state championships and they are highly rated districts.  DeSoto ISD, recent State Champs, not so much.

What Have We Learned About School Districts & Real Estate?

There is a lot of work to be done in Tarrant County school districts.

Districts need to be better - can they be?

It will take a lot more than apples and books to get some of the school districts in Tarrant County rated higher than “acceptable,” but it can be done!

If homebuyers only want to purchase in highly rated districts, the gap between districts will widen as will the cost of homes in those respective areas.  That chasm already exists, but could get much wider — and that would be detrimental to both education and housing in our fair burg.

Well, that’s all from Tarrant County this week Dirty Readers.  Thanks for reading and following and sharing!  As always, if you have questions, comments or great ideas for a blog … hit me up!

Seth Fowler is a licensed Real Estate Sales Professional for Williams Trew Real Estate in Fort Worth, TX.  Statements and opinions are his and his alone.  Seth has been involved with the home sales and real estate industry in the Fort Worth area since 2004.  He and his family have lived in the area for over 15  years.  Seth also loves bowties!  You can reach Seth at: 817.980.6636 or seth.fowler@williamstrew.com

Information collected from: txschools.org, tea.texas.gov, davedowns.com/best-school-districts-dfw, www.nbcdfw.com

4 Comment

  • If you check out the Facebook of Chris Tackett–HR Director at Coca-Cola, you will get a wealth of research that shines a light on the A-F ratings. Basically, they are more indicative in most situations of the percentage of students that have the extra, very real, challenge of poverty. Districts receiving a high grade should avoid patting themselves on the back, because most have the benefit of educating children from families with means. I hope our state gets real about public education. I don’t know how much longer we can expect our schools to make do with less. When I look into vouchers, I don’t see the success stories that can measure up to the ones I see in public education. Vouchers, in large part, have a history of corruption and failure. So sad that Texas lawmakers appear to be chasing the money at the expense of our kids.

    • How about the history of failure and corruption at Dallas County Schools, an entity which no longer provides services but for which tax payers still owe upwards of $100 million – not counting whatever is going on with the proposed DISD rate increase that just happens to coincide with the need to replicate the services that DCS was supposed to provide? And people like you are the ones who are chasing parents’ money at the expense of children who would otherwise benefit from a better education. Well past time to end the system where the taxpayer is the default payee not only for teacher, administrator, and school board member incompetence but also for outright crooks like Caraway.

      • mm

        Tried not to get too political in my blog about public schools and real estate – but yes, our public education is mired in corruption and antiquated, agrarian mindset of learning and emphasis on what is deemed important. It’s sad to hear all these blowhard, lifelong politicians spew their rhetoric and grandstand to their constituency when it comes to education – really, a politician is NOT going to be for better education? C’mon…stop pandering! It’s too late for words and it’s probably too late for action in our public education system – not just in Texas but U.S.-wide.

        What really stinks is when tax payers are being squeezed more-and-more for money to support this sinking ship and yet those with means send their kids to private schools that start around $10K a year and rapidly increase…all for what? Districts with high grades should ABSOLUTELY pat themselves on their backs because they are making the most of what they are allowed and what they can do with many students…most of whom don’t even want to be there.

        I am especially proud of the larger ISDs across the state as well as those that don’t have excess of means…I expect Southlake, Highland Park and other “rich districts” to have a high rating – if they didn’t then there would be a tremendous issue. But it’s the districts like Azle (a rural town that isn’t wealthy) and H-E-B and Birdville districts that received “B” grades that I’m proud of….those districts are multi-cultural, diverse in income and not that small…

        I am hopeful with the new Superintendent of FWISD – a very impressive gentleman – that he can help get the district to a higher rating…and yes, I know it’s not about ratings

        So if you want to do something and help…join Reading Partners, volunteer at your local school – or an underprivileged school with tremendous needs…I am extremely proud of Williams Trew Real Estate (my broker) that has a large volunteer contingent not only of money-givers but time-givers…it’s through those avenues that kids are going to learn to read and hopefully not become a statistic of an outdated and often-times corrupt education system

        Thanks to all for reading, commenting and sharing thoughts and feelings…stay Dirty!

        Now back to real estate stuff….