Georgia State study: New charter schools boost surrounding home values

Credit: Maureen Downey

Credit: Maureen Downey

Interesting study from Georgia State University's Center for State and Local Finance on the impact of start-up charter schools on the prices of homes in the area.

Commissioned by the Georgia  Charter Schools Commission, the study analyzed the economic impact of start-up charter schools on the nearby communities.  The researchers looked at home sales from 2004 to 2013, covering 15 school districts that include 52 start-up charter schools.

The study found homeowners were willing to pay more to be near new charters with specific attendance zones:

"Some charter schools utilize priority attendance zones within a larger attendance zone, which give enrollment priority to students who live within these zones. We find that for start-up charter schools with priority attendance zones, households are willing to pay an additional 3-5 percent to be within one half mile of the school. This effect increases to roughly 8 percent in the city of Atlanta. For start-up charter schools without priority zones, the positive economic effect is mostly isolated to charter schools in the Atlanta suburbs. For this subsample, households appear to be willing to pay roughly 2-6 percent more depending on the relative distance from the school. For suburban Atlanta schools, the results also suggest that the presence of a start-up charter school can diminish the positive economic relationship between the quality of the zoned traditional public school and higher home values by offering an alternative to the zoned traditional public school."

The uptick in home values could not be established when the attendance zone spanned a wide area, with the study singling out Pataula Charter Academy in southwest Georgia:

"Due to the very large attendance zone and the rural nature of the counties served, we use a different model to calculate the Pataula start-up charter school's effect on property values in the five counties. Our analysis of the effect of the opening of the Pataula Charter Academy on property values in the area is inconclusive. While evidence suggests that the school's opening has had some positive effect on property values, the difficulty in obtaining needed data on home sales coupled with a smaller number of transactions limited the statistical power of the model. "

Here is the official summary:

Homes closer to start-up charters schools in Georgia experience higher property values than those farther away, the greatest impact being for homes located within priority attendance zones in Atlanta, according to a new study by Georgia State University's Center for State and Local Finance. The report, commissioned by the State Charter Schools Commission, examines home sales from 2004 – 2013, covering 15 school districts and 52 start-up charter schools in Georgia.

“We have long known that homeowners value quality public school options for the children in their communities,” said Bonnie Holliday, executive director of the State Charter Schools Commission. “This research validates the positive impact that a start-up charter school has on its neighborhood through bolstered property sales and increased tax revenue.”

Researchers analyzed the variation in sales prices of houses in different attendance zones, as well as the variation in house values based on the distance from the charter schools. Where appropriate, the researchers also analyzed the differences in house prices before and after the opening of a start-up charter school. The majority of the 52 schools examined are located in large suburbs and cities, with 28 located in metro Atlanta.

  • In the city of Atlanta, priority-zoned charter schools increased property values by 8.2 percent within a 0.3-mile radius, with the average home expected to sell for $11,846 more than the same home 0.3 - 0.6 miles away.
  • In the Atlanta suburbs, non-priority charter schools increased property values by 4.2 percent within a half-mile radius, with the average home expected to sell for $5,888 more than the same home located a half mile to one mile away.

The research also indicates that the older a start-up charter school is the higher the property values of nearby homes in priority zones. While the research points to a high demand for homes near start-up charter schools, the researchers acknowledge there are benefits to the greater community in the form of an increased local tax base, which helps fund roads, public safety and other services.

“Our two major findings regarding start-up charter schools — that those in Atlanta’s suburbs and those with priority zones increase property values — suggest that there could be similar effects in other large metropolitan areas,” said Peter Bluestone, co-author of the report and a senior research associate at the Center for State and Local Finance.

Forthcoming research also will look at labor force outcomes of Georgia start-up charter school students.