Charter Schools and Home Buying: What You Should Know

Jon Real Estate Leave a Comment

There’s a ton of buzz- both local and national- surrounding charter schools these days.  There also happens to be a good deal of misinformation and misunderstanding.  Unfortunately, when it comes to buying a home, this confusion can potentially lead to regret.

One prime example is Grant Park’s much loved and respected Neighborhood Charter School.  Neighborhood Charter is a gem, the product of an active community of parents and educators who’ve worked tirelessly since opening the school’s doors in 2000 to create a phenomenally successful school.  Only one slight problem- the school is now flooded with applications.  There are simply fewer available slots than there are applicants.

According to a recent post on Great Schools (it’s like Yelp, for schools… so take the source with a grain of salt), Neighborhood Charter accepted 18 of 50 non-employee applicants- an acceptance rate of 36%.  Putting that into a “”collegiate context””, it’s a little easier to get in to Georgia Tech (49% acceptance rate),  and a little harder to get into Emory (30% acceptance rate).  Not exactly great odds.

Putting the acceptance rates to the side for a moment, let’s focus on the home buying side of the equation.  According to the FMLS, there are 43 homes currently for sale in the Neighborhood Charter School District.  At this point, you’re probably wondering “”if only 36% of applicants are accepted, how are there 43 homes on the market that are being marketed as ‘in district?'””.  It’s complicated, but the marketing rationale likely falls in to one or two categories:  ignorance (it’s quite possible that the listing agent has no idea that Neighborhood Charter does not admit all applicants) or branding (Neighborhood Charter is a great school with a strong brand).  Regardless of motivation, the reality of the situation is that there’s a strong possibility that someone will end up buying a home under the false assumption that there is a complete certainty that they’re zoned for a school that there’s only a 1/3 chance they’re really zoned for.

Not all charter schools are set up this way.  If you live within the boundaries of Riverwood International Charter School in Sandy Springs, you’re virtually guaranteed admission.  It’s not just a charter school- it is the neighborhood high school.  Knowing the difference in admission processes between schools like Riverwood and Neighborhood Charter is absolutely critical in evaluating whether or not to buy a home within each district.

The moral of the story is that it is incumbent on home buyers to do some home work.  Ask questions, and most importantly, work with a Realtor.  The interweb has made fantastic strides in organizing information, but is still a few years away from providing the human expertise needed to help make a complex real estate decision.

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