February 16, 2012
Los Gatos home buyers often ask the question of what the ratio is for prices of houses with “Los Gatos Schools” as opposed to those with Union or Campbell Schools. In other words, how much more costly is real estate if the property feeds to Los Gatos High School? Although there’s no tidy, easy rule of thumb that will uniformly apply, often the answer is in the 10-20% range. It can be more or less, though.
Part of the trickiness of coming up with an easy answer about the impact of the school district on home values is that there are other significant variables too. Here are a few:
- Proximity to the downtown area or other highly desireable places, such as schools, parks, shopping, restaurants or coffee shops
- Pricing tier: the easiest to compare are smaller houses on smaller lots which are about the same distance to schools, parks etc. – much harder are luxury homes because often there is a wide range of lot size, view, useability, amenities, etc.
- Home type: almost impossible to compare tract housing in the newer parts of town with the older, historic and architecturally distinctive construction in the older areas of town
Sample comparison of fairly similar home types and lot sizes in Los Gatos
All that said, today I compared sales of houses in just 95032 (since much of 95030 is close to downtown and most of 95032 is not) to remove the “walk to town” variable. I pulled up properties that hae sold in the last 120 days that were between 1200 and 2200 square feet, on lot sizes close to 8,000 SF. All were in east Los Gatos and pretty close to within a mile’s range, straddling the border of the school district boundary – so pretty equal in distance to shops, Vasona Park etc. though those “in the schools” were a little closer. Here’s what I found for this sampling of Los Gatos properties:
The houses in the Union School District which feed to Leigh High School:
- 3 sales
- Average house size = 1936 SF
- Average lot size = 7970 SF
- Average sales price = $903,367
- Median sales price = $870,000
- Average price per square foot = $474
The properties in the Los Gatos Union School District which feed to Los Gatos High School:
- 5 sales
- Average house size = 1724 SF
- Average lot size = 8392 SF
- Average sales price = $1,028,000
- Median sales price = $1,000,000
- Average price per square foot = $592
On a price per square foot basic, buying “in the schools” is about 20% more. The difference is less when comparing the median and average sales price (10% and 13%), but it needs to be understood that the home sizes are smaller by about 11% too – so it’s not just 10-13% more expensive for this sampling of properties.
How much better are the schools in one district over the other? If considering API scores, which I would not suggest using exclusively (but it is easily measured), the differences are not so great at the elementary and middle school levels. Where it’s pronounced is the high school level. Have a look – I pulled these numbers from the Santa Clara County API page for all schools in the county. There was no update for Union Middle School so I used the year prior (Dartmouth Middle is in the same school district and situation – the last year it recorded, the number was 900 exactly). I did not compare all schools, just those on the border closest to those “in the schools”.