Will High School Free Agency Help NW Tallahassee Sell Homes?
I was recently asked a question by a real estate investor regarding the impact of "high school free agency" on the troubled NW sector of the Tallahassee real estate market.
In case you haven't heard about this issue, it appears as if we are about to see a virtual elimination of high school zones, and it may impact local housing markets.
High School Free Agency Defined
First of all, the term "high school free agency" references new legislation that is proposing that high school students be able to go to the public high school of their choosing, even if they live outside of their school zone or county. The caveat is the parents must provide the transportation for their children to attend out of zone schools.
So assuming this becomes law (and it appears to be heading in that direction rapidly), how might it impact home sales in Tallahassee?
Tallahassee Has A Bottleneck
There is a belief among most Tallahassee homebuyers that the best public schools are located in the NE quadrant.
Because of that, most of the development of new homes has been in NE Tallahassee and most home sales occur there as well. In 2015, 53% of all homes sold in Tallahassee were located in this part of town. It is my belief that the perception of public school quality is a primary driver for the majority of homebuyers to their eventual purchase.
If people had the freedom of changing schools, regardless of where they live, it could have an impact on where they choose to buy a home.
Reality Versus Perception
I am by no means an expert on any of the politics involved in how the system currently works for high school age kids who go to school out of zone.
I know the current policy called "School Choice" exists, but I'm not sure what it covers or how it is enforced.
What I do know is that kids go out of zone all the time right now.
I know football players a few years ago transferred from one high school to another, and I seriously doubt they all had families that moved their homestead.
So the reality is that kids are already going to school out of zone, so I'm not sure high school free agency will necessarily change anything.
The current perception might change though.
People moving today are buying homes in the zone where they want their children to go to school, and perhaps the new law will have them look at values and opportunities that exist beyond school boundary lines.
Right now, you can get a whole lot more home for the dollar on the west side of town than you can on the east side, so anything that encourages search diversity will improve the health of both Tallahassee's overall economy and the housing market too.
I'll be curious to see how this all unfolds, as will everybody who has a stake in the future of the Tallahassee real estate market.
Will high school free agency make an impact? If you have an opinion on this, I'd love to see it in the comments section below.