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August 18, 2015

Report: Philly suburbs' schools a big selling point for realtors

Study finds 22.5% of real estate listings in Montgomery, Bucks, Chester counties highlight academics

Where in America are realtors most likely to use “great schools” as a selling point?

A recent report from Trulia has found that the Philadelphia suburbs of Montgomery, Bucks and Chester counties are ranked No. 3 on a nationwide list of regions where real estate listings brag about good schools.

Researchers combed through a year’s worth of real estate listings in the 100 largest U.S. metro areas to see which ones mentioned the word “school” in combination with words like “excellent” and “award winning.”

They then calculated the percentage of listings in each area that mentioned good schools. Orange County topped the list at 27.6 percent, followed by San Jose at 25.3 percent.

The Philadelphia suburbs came in at a respectable third place, with 22.5 percent of all real estate listings in Montgomery, Bucks and Chester counties boasting about quality academics.

In comparison, schools are NOT a selling point in Pittsburgh, where only 4.4 percent of listings mentioned good schools. That city made Trulia’s bottom 10 list of areas where schools were mentioned least.

At the very bottom of the list was Las Vegas. “School” appears to be a dirty word there because less than 1 percent of listings brought up good schools.

But don’t let that sour your opinion of Sin City’s pedagogical offerings.

"If a listing doesn’t mention schools, does it suggest that the home is not in a good school district? Not at all," wrote Selma Hepp, chief economist, on Trulia.

In states that are known for having great school districts across the board, there may be no need to state that the schools are good, she explained. It’s simply taken as a given.

Maybe school districts in New Jersey and Delaware should brag that they didn’t make Trulia’s list.

However, in states with a high variance in educational quality, realtors need to point out when a school district is better than the average.

As for Las Vegas, it may just be that realtors aren’t interested in attracting young parents and are focusing on different demographic groups, like retirees.

It’s unclear if the presence of good schools increases home prices, Hepp writes. While that is the conventional wisdom, it’s also possible that the process works in reverse: When home prices are high, the schools become good because they've benefited from increased property tax revenue.

“The connection is hard to detangle and the causality is blurred,” Hepp writes.

For what it’s worth, researchers found that home prices in the Montgomery County area were on average seven percent higher when a listing mentioned good schools, compared to the listings that didn't mention schools.