Only top spenders consider school quality when buying new homes: study

December 22, 2010

( -- School quality is not a significant factor for home buyers, except for those purchasing residences priced in the top 25 per cent of the market, according to Sauder School of Business researchers at the University of British Columbia.

Sauder professors Tsur Somerville and John Ries found that a major change to public school catchment areas in Vancouver in 2000 had minimal effects on pricing in the city’s market. Findings show that issues of school quality only affect the prices of residences affordable to higher income families.

Their study, “School Quality and Residential Property Values: Evidence from Vancouver Rezoning,” was published in the November edition of The Review of Economics and Statistics.

“It is commonly understood in the real estate industry that the quality of schools in a particular area plays a significant role in determining the price of housing,” says Assoc. Prof. Tsur Somerville, who specializes in real estate finance.

“However, our study shows that school quality is not something most home buyers are willing to pay a premium for. Only people in the position to buy in the upper end of the market seem to be willing to pay more for what are perceived to be better schools.”

A city-wide rezoning of school catchment areas was announced by the Vancouver School Board in September 2000 and took effect January 2001. It put approximately 20 per cent of the city’s homes into catchment areas with schools of better or lesser quality, as determined by standardized test scores.

Using data from the British Columbia Assessment Authority to gather information about home sales, the researchers examined 19,225 transactions between 1996 and 2003, only including residences that had sales before and after the announcement of new catchment areas. Of this sample, 1,849 homes were assigned a new , 1,941 a new elementary school, and 78 experienced changes in both.

After adapting their findings to allow for differences in average prices by neighbourhood and in price trends, the researchers found no effect on the prices of the 75 per cent least expensive homes in the market.

However, households purchasing the 25 per cent most expensive residences – measured as the price per square foot – were willing to pay 1.9 per cent more for homes, if the quality of a local secondary school improved by one standard deviation. In areas which experienced a two standard deviation increase in secondary school quality, high end home buyers were willing to pay approximately 4 per cent more.

In areas where elementary school quality improved by one standard deviation, buyers purchasing homes priced in the top 25 per cent of the market were willing to pay 5.4 per cent more.

To measure school quality in elementary schools, the researchers used the results of the provincial government-mandated Foundation Skills Assessment tests. For secondary schools, they employed results from the Fraser Institute’s School Report Cards, which compare academic performance of high schools across Canada.

Explore further: No evidence of a post-Olympics boom or bust for host city real estate prices: study

Related Stories

Study: New negative trend in Phoenix housing market

November 30, 2010

It’s official: The Phoenix housing market appears to be experiencing a new downward trend. A new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU confirms a year-over-year decrease in home prices for the third month ...

More home buyers go online

January 26, 2006

More Americans who search online for a new home are more likely to purchase a house through a real-estate agent than a non-Internet user, says a recent survey from the National Association of Realtors.

Pricing practices cost consumers

April 12, 2007

You may be paying more for that can of soup or loaf of bread, depending on whether they have an individual price sticker or not. A new study from the DeGroote School of Business finds grocery items individually priced with ...

Recommended for you

Industrial "edge cities" have helped China grow

August 18, 2017

China's massive investment in industrial parks has paid economic dividends while reshaping the urban areas where they are located, according to a newly published study co-authored by an MIT expert on urban economics.

Ancient species of giant sloth discovered in Mexico

August 17, 2017

Mexican scientists said Wednesday they have discovered the fossilized remains of a previously unknown species of giant sloth that lived 10,000 years ago and died at the bottom of a sinkhole.

The mathematics of golf

August 16, 2017

(—The official Rules of Golf, which are continually being revised and updated as new equipment emerges, have close ties to mathematics. In many cases, math is used to place limitations on golf equipment, such as ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2010
Another duh-uh study.

The upper 25% in wealth and/or earnings are more willing to pay for private or good public schools than the lower 75%.

Gosh, I sure am glad two highly paid professors had nothing more important than this to study in their life-time secure jobs. Otherwise, how would we ever know that those with upper incomes spend more than those with lower incomes. And to such precision, too.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2010
As realtors say, location^3.
School performance is high on the list in MA for people moving in to the area. They will even rent to be in a district. Compare housing prices between Westford, Chelmsford and Lowell.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 23, 2010
Normal people move either because of work related issues, or family related issues.

top 1% have 25% of income,so it certainly isn't like the bottom 50% have anything to work with.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 23, 2010
Normal people move either because of work related issues, or family related issues.

top 1% have 25% of income,so it certainly isn't like the bottom 50% have anything to work with.

People will choose to live school districts they like, if they can afford to live there. Andover, MA is supposed to have great schools, but the housing costs are high. It's interesting Cambridge has crappy K-12 schools and high housing costs (due to MIT and Harvard among other reasons).
In more rural areas, housing is much more reasonable and people can easily choose among local schools.
In AZ, Vail has better schools and lower housing costs than Tucson.
That's why school district information is on property data sheets.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.