One of the current listing on Airbnb in downtown Dallas offers this nighttime view. Photo: Airbnb

One of the current listing on Airbnb in downtown Dallas offers this view for $72 per night. All photos: Airbnb

“Try before you buy” is a hard concept to implement in the world of real estate. But a new partnership between Airbnb and realtor.com aims to do just that for potential homebuyers, letting them experience a specific neighborhood before purchasing there.

The partnership is particularly focused on millennials, who now represent the largest group of homebuyers in the U.S. at 32 percent, recently taking over from Generation X. This age cohort, born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, is about 79 million strong, and their purchasing power is estimated to be $170 billion per year.

The Airbnb-realtor.com partnership aims to reduce some of the unknown factors associated with relocating to a new community. Here’s how it will work: Visitors to realtor.com will see an “Airbnb before buying” option for certain properties, and the choice will also appear on the homepage and on for-sale listing pages. Potential buyers will be able to book accommodations on Airbnb ranging from single-family homes to condos, lofts, and other properties located near their chosen neighborhood.

“As we offer a variety of unique accommodations in neighborhoods across the country, we’ll be able to allow potential home owners the special opportunity to experience those neighborhoods as if they already live there,” said Chip Conley, Airbnb head of global hospitality and strategy.

Millennials are extremely technology-driven in their home-buying efforts, according to the 2015 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study. This partnership plays perfectly into that, allowing them to make all arrangements online.

“I think it’s brilliant—this could give [millennials] a taste of a neighborhood and change them from renter to buyers,” said Jay Forrester, a Realtor with Ebby Halliday Preston Center.

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By Bruce Felps, editor of the East Dallas Times

Stonewall Jackson Elementary School, near the border of the M Streets-Greenland Hills neighborhood, recently took an academic rating hit from the Texas Education Agency.

TEA dropped Stonewall’s rating from “exemplary” to “acceptable,” a drop of two rungs in the course of one school year.

The decline could change the perception of prospective homebuyers with elementary school-age children when considering a home within the Stonewall attendance zone. Then again, the resale market for existing homes might remain business as usual.

So, which factor became reality so far?

Scott Carlson, a 30-year veteran of East Dallas residential real estate, said any market evidence just two months after the TEA announced its analysis would be strictly anecdotal.

“Unless you went into MLS, looked at sales stats, and called buyers to see if the rating played any role in their decision there’s no way to know. Bottom line is you can’t do that,” he said. “I don’t think it really matters anyway. Stonewall and Lakewood [Elementary in the adjacent attendance zone to the east] are our two most desired elementary schools.”

Carlson’s assessment of the rating drop not mattering rings true in the eyes of the Dallas Central Appraisal District, the agency that ascribes home valuations for taxation purposes.

Cheryl Jordan, community relations spokeswoman for DCAD, said appraisers ignore buyers’ reasoning and look only at resale prices in a given area.

“We don’t analyze the market, we reflect its activity, past-tense,” she said. “We look at the bottom line not why it happened.”

Darren Dattalo, a real estate agent who sits on the Lower Greenville Neighborhood Association board of directors, wrote in an e-mail message that the market has yet to react to TEA’s action.

“I believe it’s far too soon to see a statistical impact to this. Ask again in a year and we’ll have enough data to really tell,” he wrote. “Anecdotally speaking, the word is out and buyers are talking. But buyers and agents who know the area also know the whole story and know that Stonewall is just as good as it ever was. And while bad news travels faster than good news, the truth will make itself known.”

Olivia Henderson, Stonewall’s principal, understandably echoed Dattalo’s assertion that Stonewall remains an exemplary school despite the state’s findings. TEA, she explained in a letter to parents originally published in the Stonewall PTA newsletter, said the agency simply changed its rating matrix.

“According to the TEA’s testing program, 2011 was the year that all students would be tested on grade level and that all student test scores would count. This included our small group of Deaf Education students who have previously taken a modified version of the TAKS test. This is the first year that the state has aggregated their scores with the general education population,” she wrote.

Prospective buyers, when considering a home in a given school attendance zone, might be better served discussing the school with PTA members rather than listening to a state agency. The neighborhood level, in this case, likely matters more than the prevailing bureaucratic winds.

Bruce Felps owns and operates East Dallas Times.We are happy to have him as a Contributor to CandysDirt. Even better: he’s a product of the Dallas ISD, and he turned out just fine. But don’t tell that to his shrink.