Report: ‘Good Schools’ not the only positive for Benton County home prices

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 8 views 

It’s no secret that homes in the areas of preferred elementary schools often have higher prices than those in underperforming districts. Benton County results are mixed in terms of school performance, but home prices continue to trend higher for most because of a growing population, strong demand and vibrant local economy.

A new report from ATTOM Data Solutions, parent company of Irvine, Calif.,-based RealtyTrac, not only found a direct correlation between high performing elementary schools and strong home prices in specific zip codes, but it also found that “good” schools have largely promoted a robust price recovery since the housing downturn. Local experts said good schools are just part of the reason home prices are increasing.

ATTOM examined data from 18,968 elementary schools around the nation located in 4,435 zip codes with a combined 45.9 million single family homes and condos. This report classifies a school as “good” if its test score are at least one-third above the state’s average. Washington, Sebastian nor Crawford County data was included in the report as they did not have required number of annual home sales.

The local elementary schools highlighted in the report include:
• Central Park at Morning Star in Bentonville
• Cooper Elementary in Bella Vista
• Centerton Elementary in Centerton
• Arkansas Arts Academy in Rogers
• Southside Elementary in Siloam Springs

The report found that homes in the Southside Elementary School district in Siloam Springs have seen the average home value rise more than $30,699 over original average purchase prices for an return on investment of 28.1%.The median home sale price this year is $123,160, up 3.7% over last year and 18.4% higher than in 2006, before the housing slump and recession, according to the report.

Interestingly enough, Southside Elementary fell short of making the report’s “good school” status, but that didn’t seem to hurt the home values in this immediate area.

Two of the schools highlighted in the report Central Park at Morning Star in Bentonville and Cooper Elementary in Bella Vista, also part of the Bentonville School District, did each earn the “good school” status from ATTOM. In Bentonville the average home value in the Central Park district was $233,679. Average home values have risen $25,227 over their original average purchase price for an ROI of 12.1%. The median sales price in this area this year is $210,000, up 10.6% from a year ago and 38.6% higher since pre-recession 2006.

The average home value in Bella Vista was reported as $154,022, up an average of $28,520 since the time of purchase for an ROI of 22.7%. The median home sales price this year in Bella Vista is $127,000, flat to a year ago and up 6.7% since the pre-recession period of 2006.

The Arkansas Arts Academy in Rogers also failed to make the report’s “good school” status but homes in this area have seen home values rise to an average of $246,679, up $30,755 on average since purchase. The median sales price of $220,000 this year is up 4.3% from a year ago and 22.2% higher than in 2006. (Talk Business & Politics found one flaw in the report with respect to this area of Rogers. The Arkansas Arts Academy is a charter school and enrollment is not tied to a particular neighborhood.)

All of the Benton County neighborhoods except Centerton have seen the average home value increase since the date of purchase, regardless of whether their elementary schools made the “good schools” list. In Centerton the average home value of $168,905 has decreased an average of $35,479 since purchase date, with a negative ROI of 17.45%. Median sales prices this year are $148,450, up 8.85% from a year ago and still 13% below the 2006 pre-recession highs.

Local real estate experts say good schools can have a positive impact on pricing but more important than good school scores is the supply of homes for sale, relative to demand. Home prices continue to increase in Bentonville and Washington counties in part because of higher land costs and rising new home prices as well as active buyer demand, which has the region on track to hit $1 billion in home sales at least one month ahead of last year, which was also a record.

With so much of Benton County seeing higher home values the report also looked at areas where homes may be purchased at a “bargain price” relative to the local school’s “good” score rating. Lowell Elementary was the only school in the region to make this list. The average home value in Lowell is $169,264, but the median sales price is $139,500, up 7% over the past year but still 28% lower than the precession high in 2006.

Daren Blomquist senior vice president of ATTOM, said good schools are one of the top items on most homebuyers checklists, but it’s just one factor. He said quality of life benefits also tend to come with good performing schools and this tends to have a financial benefit for homeowners in most markets overtime. He said in areas where schools are low performing, there is often flight and increased volatility that can work against a homeowner’s financial benefit.

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