Portland School Ratings Change Portland Home Values

portland school ratings change portland home values

School performance is emerging as a top influencer for real estate markets across the country, and it’s just as true in Portland. Every parent wants to give their child the best possible education, and for many, living near a highly rated school is the way to do that. You may strongly agree or disagree, but it is impacting home values across the country and here in Portland.

What about home buyers who don’t have children, who simply want to make the best real estate investment? Research shows that where school performance excels, so do real estate values. 

  • A 2013 National Association of Realtors survey found that 91% of buyers pay attention to school district boundaries when they’re searching for a home. And 50% said they would pay extra for a home near the right school.
  • A 2012 study of 100 major US metros by the Brookings Institution found that home values averaged $205,000 higher in neighborhoods with high-scoring schools.
  • In 2016, another NAR study looked at home values in areas across the country near schools ranked highly (9 or 10 out of 10) on Greatschools.org. They found these homes to be “on average, 49% more expensive—at $400,000—than the national median of $269,000, and 77% more expensive than schools located in lower-ranked districts in their own area, with a median of $225,000.”

Researching Portland School Ratings

For most Portland home buyers, the logical next step would be to figure out what the best schools are in Portland and ask your real estate agent to show you homes for sale nearby. Of course, the definition of “best school” is very subjective, but new tools now make it easier than ever to look at school performance in a number of categories. Here’s our real estate agent guide to getting to know the schools in your potential Portland neighborhood.

  1. Which schools? Every Portland home is near a public school, but the closest school may not necessarily be the school that students attend. In Oregon, school district lines determine attendance (In some cases, however, a transfer may be possible). Portland Public Schools is the the largest district in the state of Oregon and it enrolls the most students in Portland. However, the Portland metro area comprises several other school districts. To find out what school district a home is in, go to PortlandMaps.com and enter the address. The information panel that comes up will have a “schools” tab showing the district and the assigned public elementary, middle and high school for that home. 
  2. Check out the school’s official report card. Once you know the school, it’s time to do a little digging. Although talking to teachers, principals and students might be the best way to find out of the school is a good fit for your child, standardized information is also helpful. The Oregon Department of Education is required to release test results, attendance and other performance indicators for every Oregon public school on a yearly basis. You can search the database here, or use The Oregonian’s more user-friendly interface which pulls the same data. There’s a lot here, but one thing you won’t find is a numerical rating of each school or district. Instead, the DOE attempts to provide a comprehensive overview of how the school is doing by showing certain indicators on the “at-a glance report card” for each school. These report cards are easy to read and make cross-comparisons from school to school (as long as it’s a public school). There are no district report cards. 
  3. Check on the GreatSchools rating. Greatschools.org provides a quick look at how a school compares to others in the state. Keep in mind that the rating is based primarily on test scores, not other factors that education experts argue are just as important. In fact, the reason that the Oregon DOE does not rate schools is that such simple ratings can’t capture the complex process of education — but the fact can’t be denied that GreatSchools ratings are gaining influence over real estate values. This website also has data on private schools. 
  4. Avoid review rabbit-holes. GreatSchools has a “reviews” section for its schools, as do other popular sites like SchoolDigger and the neighborhood data trove Niche. It may be fun to read rants and raves, but when it comes down to it, that’s all they really are: Most people don’t write reviews unless they have strong opinions. If you want to hear first-person accounts about a school in your potential neighborhood, talk with the local parents and teachers.

Portland School District changes

The good news is that the top three highest rated school districts in Oregon (at least according to Niche.com) are in the Portland metro area: Lake Oswego, Riverdale, and West Linn-Wilsonville. The not-so great news is that the biggest district, Portland Public Schools, is not a top performer in the state. What impact this has on home values is hard to say, but there are changes in the works that may boost Portland school performance. 

For one, the district hired a new superintendent in 2017, and in his first performance review, the school board praised his hard work and vision for the district, which included implementing a new standardized curriculum. 

In 2012, the district began the process of modernizing its schools, and voters have supported two bond measures, totaling over $1 billion so far, to support the effort. Although higher property taxes are a challenge for home owners and buyers in the Portland area, if the result is better schools, they may see a return on their investment when it comes time to sell their home.

January 18, 2019

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

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