By Keith Sharon
Across Orange County there are neighborhoods that feed contrasting school districts – great schools for some homes and schools perceived to be less-than-excellent for other homes.
And in those neighborhoods, even when the housing is similar in size and quality, schools drive value.
In 2012, a doctor, his wife and their infant son moved to Orange County from Boston and spent a year living in UC Irvine housing as they figured out where to buy their permanent home.
They first looked in Newport Beach, tantalized by its beautiful coastline. But they soon started thinking about another factor, something that’s a huge economic driver in Orange County’s housing game: schools.
So, last July, Ran and Aude Schwarzkopf, along with their son Matan, now 2, passed on an ocean view to live in non-coastal Irvine, near Turtle Rock Elementary and University High School – both of which have reputations as being among the best public schools in the county if not the country.
“It’s not like our kid goes to school now, but it is very comfortable to be near Turtle Rock Elementary,” Aude Schwarzkopf said.
“I would expect to pay a premium to be in the area of such a high profile high school.”
She would be right.
Rich Hudson, a real estate columnist for Websitebox.com, cited a study by Redfin Real Estate than showed homebuyers paying as much as $400,000 more for a better school in Orange County.
Hudson said job location used to rival schools as the top factor for family homebuyers, but that has changed in Orange County and the Inland Empire (particularly the Murrieta/Temecula areas).
“In both cases, access to good schools won out over drive time,” Hudson said.