Many Americans struggle to find an affordable place to live, and that’s especially true if you have kids and want to send them to a good school. In the majority of ZIP codes with at least one good school, average wage earners can’t afford a median-priced home, according to a new report.
The analysis comes from real estate data company RealtyTrac, which looked at elementary school test scores, median home prices and median incomes in more than 7,200 ZIP codes. Only 1,823 ZIP codes had at least one good school, but in 1,192 (65%) of them, families making the average wage in that area would have to spend more than a third of their income to afford the median mortgage payment in the same area. A good school was defined as a school with test scores that are 33% higher than the state average.
“We believed one-third better was a good sign that the school is one of the top-tier schools in the state. We had used that same cutoff in our schools report last year as well,” said Ginny Walker, public relations supervisor at RealtyTrac.
Schools have a huge impact on home value. In ZIP codes with at least one good school, median home prices were nearly double the median home prices in places without good schools: $411,573 compared to $210,662.
The test scores came from 2014 Education Department data, average wages are from first-quarter 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics data and median home prices came from public records and RealtyTrac calculations.
School districts and ZIP codes don’t always share boundaries, and families aren’t necessarily limited to sending their kids to school within their ZIP codes. Depending on where you live and your school options, it may be less expensive to send children to private schools than to move to a place with higher home prices and good schools.
Even so, this data isn’t encouraging. Good schools make a market more competitive (and more expensive), potentially excluding average wage earners from owning homes in good school districts. Education options are among the many things to consider when buying a home, but affordability is the ultimate determining factor. One way to improve your chances of getting an affordable home loan is to have a good credit score, which can lower your interest rate and allow you to afford a home with a higher price tag. You can get your free credit scores every 30 days on Credit.com.
More on Mortgages & Homebuying:
- Why You Should Check Your Credit Before Buying a Home
- How to Find & Choose a Mortgage Lender
- How to Search for Your Next Home