I’m So Tired of Hearing How Property Values Will Increase If We Pass the Park City School District’s $56 Million Bond
It’s everywhere. “The upcoming school bond is great because it will make our schools world class and thus raise our property values. Who can argue with that?” It must be some talking point coming out of the School District’s “YES” campaign for their bond because you hear it everywhere.
Most recently I read it in the Park Record’s guest editorial from last Saturday. “At $50 per square foot the increase in value associated with a top rated school district is $130,000 [on my house]…I am old and I don’t have any relative being taught in the school district, but I’ll take that.”
I get it. The adage that good schools raise home prices is well known. Let me ask you a question though:
Are Park City Schools currently among the top in the state?
You probably answered yes and that’s fair. People love Park City schools. So, if we invest $65 million in building a new school, adding on to another, and building a field house, how exactly does that raise my property value? I’d like to believe the guest editorialist, but I have a difficult time understanding how moving from being an above average school to being an above average school increases my property value.
You may may say, “but Park Rag, by going all these things we will have top notch facilities and it will increase our test scores.” I hope so, because our school district states that it is evidence based… so if we invest $65 million and our SAGE test scores don’t go up in proportion to the money spent, that doesn’t seem like money well spent. However, let me ask another question:
How much did your property value drop this year?
What… your property is worth more today than a year ago? That’s impossible. Didn’t you hear that Park City High School fell out of the US News rankings? Previously it was ranked pretty high and now it isn’t in the top 6,000 schools in the country. That must have just crushed your property values! Wait, let’s look at what appears to be the Zillow value of the Guest Editorialist:
So, the guest editorialist’s home price didn’t plummet this year along with the school district’s ranking? I know this is Zillow data, and every Realtor hates it, but I would guess the trend is fairly accurate. Perhaps the editorialist was an exception? Uh…. Nope, look that the line for the 84060 zip code. No nosedive there either?
What in the heck is going on? Perhaps home prices are only correlated to the upside of rankings? If only we can invest millions, and make our schools even more above averager (is that a word?), we can reap the benefits of higher property values.
Or perhaps, Park City is a desirable location for second home owners and that component, along with the economy, drives the value of homes. HMMM.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out a couple of other things:
First, generally, if you are not planning on selling your home, you don’t want home values to increase. It’s just more taxes to pay.
Second, if you are going to believe the research on property taxes going up related to better schools, you should also pay attention to a 2000 Bogart and Cromwell study “that showed that school redistricting, including some school closures that led to busing some school children in Shaker Heights, Ohio in 1987 led to disrupting neighborhood schools which reduced property values by 9.9%.” Sorry Prospector and Park Meadows. I know there is some sentimental value and pain associated with not having Treasure Mountain Junior High and 5th grade (McPolin) in Park City proper anymore. However it looks like that pain may also be in your pocketbook.
That is, of course, if you believe the research.
The school district’s plans may or may not make sense, depending on your perspective. There are components that seem good and some others that seem more questionable. However, please don’t trot out the same old, time-worn garbage as justification for the school bond when it likely doesn’t apply in this case. Commit to me that the student’s test scores are going to improve. Guarantee that even better teachers will want to be part of our school district. Tell me that my children are going to have an even better experience at our new schools.
Like our schools teach, please think independently and make well reasoned arguments. Don’t read to me from the Cliff Notes of Romeo and Juliet when we are really discussing Catch 22.