How to Research Schools Before Making Your Real Estate Decision


    This article is part of a series of real estate tips from Brooklyn broker Gabriele Sewtz of Compass, a specialist in the Brooklyn family market.

    The NYC Department of Education School Finder

    If you’re looking for a home in Brooklyn, and you either have kids or are thinking about having kids, it’s essential to research the local schools.

    A detail as apparently trivial as what side of the street your home is on can decide which kindergarten your child is zoned for, and what elementary school he or she will eventually end up attending.

    Keep in mind, too, that a home located in an in-demand school zone may sell for up to 15% higher than the house across the street in a different zone. This can be a good investment in a lot of ways, whether you think about selling your home in the future or how much you will save by not paying $25,000 or more a year for a private school.

    Because of the Fair Housing Act, real estate agents are not permitted to discuss local schools when showing you a home. They can, however, direct you to information sources that can help you find out everything you need to know. And when it comes to the New York City school system, there’s a lot you need to know.

    Following are some tips for navigating the New York City school system from Brooklyn real estate broker Gabriele Sewtz. As a mother, homeowner and landlord who moved to Park Slope in 1999, Sewtz has a lot of experience helping New York families find the right home for all their needs.


    Visit the New York City Department of Education website

    The NYC Department of Education should be your first stop for all questions relating to New York City public schools. Here you can:

    — Enter the address of your prospective home into their School Finder to find out what your local schools would be

    — Look at their Enrollment Calendar for enrollment deadlines, school tours, and open houses

    — Read the FAQ for registration, enrollment, and transfer questions

    — Find progress reports, School Quality Guides, and other statistics for each NYC public school


    Check out independent sites for news, reviews, and community forums

    Inside Schools
    This site bills itself as “Your independent guide to NYC public schools.” It provides easy-to-read school zoning maps and performance information. It also allows users to interact in forums. As it is not the official DOE website, however, you should always verify any zoning information by checking out the NYC DOE site above.

    Chalkbeat New York (formerly Gotham Schools)
    This website has links to news stories in major publications and produces original content about schools, policies, and research. They, too, have forums in which users can comment and discuss.

    WNYC SchoolBook
    Media coverage of all things school related, as well as conversations prompted by editors about timely issues of the day. SchoolBook started out as a collaboration between local public radio station WNYC and The New York Times. WNYC took ownership in 2013, and sought out partnerships with local TV affiliate WNBC, The Daily News, the Chinese-language newspaper World Journal, and WNJU/Telemundo NY.

    Private School Review
    If you’re thinking of the private option, this site provides a comprehensive listing of Brooklyn’s 410 private schools. Data on each school includes student/teacher ratios, sports and extracurriculars, dress codes, and admissions deadlines.


    Talk to the School’s PTA

    For the inside scoop on a school, look no further than the moms and dads whose kids go there, and by getting to know them you’ll learn a lot about the culture of the school. Generally you can find the contact information for any school’s PTA by going to the school’s website.


    Know your dates

    The application deadline for Kindergarten is generally in February, a good seven months before your child will start school. You will receive an offer in April, and should immediately make an appointment to pre-register before May. Late applicants are likely to wind up on a wait list. Check out the The NYC Department of Education site for more details and exact dates.


    Hire a school consultant

    If you’re having trouble navigating your school options, don’t be afraid to get professional help. A Google search will return a number of options for paid school consultants who can help you with the process of choosing everything from pre-K programs to college at both public and private schools. You can check out Joyce Szuflita’s site for valuable insights into public and private schools in NYC.


    Armed with the right information, you will be ready to decide on the right Brooklyn home for your family. For more tips, news, and neighborhood guides from a local real estate broker expert in the needs of New York families, visit Gabriele Sewtz’s website.

    Click here for Brooklyn real estate listings by Gabriele Sewtz.

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