Many homebuyers have an extensive “wish list” for their new home and a few “must-have” items as well. However, according to a survey from of people who closed on a home in 2018, only one in five will stick to those must-have items when presented with a property in an area with a good school district. Danielle Hale,’s chief economist, observed, “Most buyers understand they may not be able to find a home that covers every single item on their wish list, but our survey shows that school districts are an area where many buyers are not willing to compromise.” She added, “For many buyers, ‘location, location, location,’ means ‘schools, schools, schools.’”

What Will Buyers Give Up for Good Schools?

According to the survey, the sacrifices buyers will make for good schools are far-reaching:

  • 19% reported giving up a garage to get in district
  • 18% sacrificed a large backyard
  • 17% gave up an updated kitchen and/or the desired number of bedrooms
  • 16% decided to forgo outdoor living space

According to’s spring homebuyer survey, a garage was the top feature homebuyers looked for this year, followed by updated kitchens and open floor plans.

Recognize a Good School System When You See One

Real estate investors seeking properties in areas with good school systems need to know what buyers mean when they described a “good school.” In most cases, test scores play a dominant role in this description. The availability of accelerated programs, art and music programs, and before- and after-school programs is also important. Many younger buyers also cited “diversity,” which was left undefined, as an important factor in their school preferences. compiled a list of the most-searched schools in each state using search data from its website.

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  • Carole VanSickle Ellis

    Carole VanSickle Ellis serves as the news editor and COO of Self-Directed Investor (SDI) Society, a membership organization dedicated to the needs of self-directed investors interested in alternative investment vehicles, including real estate. Learn more at or reach Carole directly by emailing

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