Brooklyn Secret Agent: Real Estate and Schools


    Today we bring you the seventh of an anonymous weekly column about real estate by one of the most experienced agents in Brooklyn: How does a family’s school needs affect the buying and selling of real estate?  Obviously, in every way. As the following anecdotes will show, however, not in ways that you might expect.
    The public schools that are highly rated are always requested by buyers, and sellers always tout their location within those zones.  (I’ve even listed studio apartments where the seller wants the school zone in the ad headline. ) Over the last 15 years, it’s been wonderful to see the list of desired schools increase dramatically.
    One surprising thing that happens over and over again is that buyers want to be in a certain school zone even though they intend to send their kids to private school. They never see any conflict in owning property which is now unavailable to those who might be dying to attend the school. Encouraging them  to look outside the district is a non-starter.
    Then there are the buyers who beat the system. First they rent in the desired district. After enrolling, they begin their search to buy without being constrained by the school’s zone boundaries. Not a bad plan, actually. (Until the practice of allowing students to stay after they move is ended.)
    A question that can’t help but arise is what is the difference in the valuation of property inside a district and outside it.  For all the years I’ve been doing this, I have never been able to accurately quantify it. I can say that within the universe of buyers who initially announced to me that they would only buy in P.S. 29 or P.S. 321, fully 85 percent of them end up buying outside that district. Each district is small and there are many very expensive properties within them, making them unaffordable to most. If a buyer wants historic Brooklyn, compromise has to happen. The best estimate I can come up with is that there is about a 10 percent differential in value for being in or out of a coveted district. You would expect it to be greater but it’s not.
    Another interesting anecdote: One buyer coming back after a few expat years was told by a “school consultant” that the chances of getting into one of the Brooklyn private schools was just about nil. He recommended the Manhattan private schools for the relative ease of admission. I’m not sure what is more bizarre here — that school consultants even exist? Or that Brooklyn is THAT hot? Possibly.
    This article would have been longer but for the five days of non-stop negotiating over a house, with brief periods of sleep in between. Two buyers bloodied each other in a battle the likes of which I’ve not seen since 2007.  Maybe it’s time to become a school consultant.

    What's Happening