When it comes to ranking the best school districts in the Capital Region, there never has been a solid platform which can be counted on as a top authority for the subject of ranking school districts from best to worst.
Sure, while some local and national websites exist, which shed light on measuring such a thing, we feel there is more to the prowess of a school district besides exam scores and graduation rates.
For us, our theory is simple: Use real estate statistics, within the Capital Region school districts, to measure the overall demand each market has, and rank the school districts based on the results.
While some local platforms rank school districts based on test scores and graduation rates, our approach is different. We believe, consumer behavior, is a better measurement of the top school districts in the region, because we use irrefutable proof which shows where consumers are willing to pay more money, and buy up homes faster, for certain school districts over others.
This is not an opinion based list of the best school districts. It is, instead, a list of the top school districts, based on a handful of core real estate statistical categories, used to measure overall demand within the real estate market.
We have long been measuring the overall demand of the local real estate market, by using school districts as are starting point, as it proves to be a deciding factor when weighing the same geographically location that have different school district.
While the old adage of location still rings true in the real estate field, school districts control the fate of home buyers and sellers, due to overlapping markets and districts, when it comes to geographical designations such as zip codes.
For example, the 12189 zip code of Watervilet, and the 12047 zip code of Cohoes, are not the best starting points for measuring housing demand, due to the different school districts playing a part in overall sale prices within these city limits.
The North Colonie School District being that difference in this example, has seen average sale prices differ by six figure amounts when sharing the same zip code as home sales within these respective cities.
When we see buyers willing to pay upwards of $150,000 more for a home, inside the same zip code, but pulling from a very different school district, we have unlocked the ultimate factor into measuring, not only the overall demand or performance within a certain market, but also a basis for being able to measure Capital Region school districts from best to worst, based on home buying behavior.
So what metrics, do we use in an effort to rank local school districts? Let’s take a look at our categories we deem as the most important to conquer such a task.
The amount of homes listed within a certain school district, tells us a couple of things about that immediate market.
Firstly, the overall size of the market, or volume of housing inventory, is a basic measurement, and a starting point to see how the rest of the statistical categories match up to the size of the district.
Of course, we have split our list of school districts into tiers, to better understand which school districts are in top demand, but also keeping in mind that, just because a school district is larger than others, doesn’t mean it automatically is better that smaller ones ranked lower on our list.
TOP 5 MARKETS FOR HOMES LISTED: 2017
- Shenendehowa: 1,011 homes listed
- Albany: 835 homes listed
- Saratoga Springs: 817 homes listed
- Schenectady: 736 homes listed
- South Colonie: 563 homes listed
The Shenendehowa School District, is indeed, ranked #1 on our list of best schools districts overall, and it may be the largest in our region. But it’s performance in other real estate statistical categories is the real reason we have ranked it #1 in 2017 despite its volume.
The Shenendehowa School District, listed 1,011 homes in 2017, and as stated, finished #1 in our list of school district rankings. However, the South Colonie School District finished #2 in our rankings, and a overall inventory of 563 homes that hit the market in 2017, is around 50% less than the number of homes to hit the Shenendehowa market.
To add to that point, the Schenectady City School District proves to be a high volume market every year, listing 736 homes in 2017, yet failed to break the Top 10 in our list of best school districts.
We understand that large school districts, and a high volume of inventory, isn’t enough to propel a school district to the top. It’s the culmination of the additional categories, in relation to it’s volume, that is weighed in order to develop a final measurement of demand.
Working off the example of inventory volume and size of a school district, we measure the amount of homes sold every year, within the school districts immediate real estate market, in relation to it’s available inventory.
With the case of the Shenendehowa School District, if 1,000 homes were listed every year, and only 500 sold, then we would see that demand in not matching up with supply within this market, and thus, consumers are not quick to jump on a home within such a school district.
Of course, in 2017, 822 homes sold within the Shen school district, a ratio of 81.31%, which is a very strong indication of overall demand.
TOP 5 MARKETS FOR HOMES SOLD: 2017
- Shenendehowa: 822 homes sold
- Albany: 629 homes sold
- Saratoga Springs: 604 homes sold
- Schenectady: 479 homes sold
- South Colonie: 469 homes sold
For a school district such as Schenectady, 479 homes sold versus the 736 listed, for a ratio of 65.08%, which was 3rd worst in our list of 32 school districts we rank. But tracking sale percentage ratios is also an indication of the overall health a real estate market has, especially considering the Schenectady School District typically only hits a 50% ratio in years past.
The number of homes selling in a particular market, versus the number of homes listed, is an obvious indication of demand, and we see it differ from one school district to the next every year.
Of course, the school districts that most of us deem as popular, based on the current way that schools are ranked of test scores and gradation rates, also happen to perform well within the real estate market, and that is of no coincidence.
As discussed, sale percentage (or ratio) is a good indication on how well a market is performing and the overall demand a particular school district has.
The formula is simple. The number of homes sold, divided by the number of homes listed in the market. So if 50 homes sell, versus 100 available listings, the ratio is 50%, which, by the way, is not a good ratio to have within a real estate market.
50 home sales / 100 homes listed for sale = 50% success rate
The South Colonie school district had one of the best ratios in the region for 2017, coming in at 83.39% of homes selling versus the homes hitting the market.
It’s really best to explain that two sale ratios exist within the real estate market. The sale percentage we track the most, has to do with what is described here. The number of homes selling, compared to the number of homes hitting the market, is an ongoing ratio that is without a limit of time.
In other words, homes listed late in 2016, may not see a closing table until 2017, thus it registers as a sale for the 2017 caledar year. But since we live in a cyclical market, with cold winters here in upstate NY, we see the real estate market slow down during the winter months and speed up in the spring and summer months.
Another ratio worth looking at is the amount of homes that are listed and sell within the same year. This is a better indication of demand, since these homes are selling quicker, than homes that languish on the market from a previous year when listed late in the fall and winter.
TOP 5 MARKETS FOR SALE PERCENTAGE: 2017
MINIMUM 100 SALES
- South Colonie: 83%
- Bethlehem: 82%
- Ballston Spa: 81%
- Shenendehowa: 81%
- Guilderland: 81%
In the example of the South Colonie school district, ranked 2nd overall in our list of best school districts, they had a ratio of 83.30% in 2017. Again, this was the amount of home sales that closed within 2017, regardless of when these home sales were listed. Some of these sales were listings from 2016, that took some time to sell.
So what was the ratio of home sales in 2017 for this district, when segmenting only the homes that were listed and sold within the same calendar year? The answer is 76%. With 413 homes selling in 2017, that had a listing date within the same year, we see strong demand in South Colonie with 76% of the years listings actually receiving offers in the same year.
Sale percentage, or ratio, is a crucial indication on the overall demand of a real estate market, particularly, within a schools district.
Remember, we saw an sale ratio of 65% for the Schenectady School District, which was a bit of an overachieving number for this market in 2017. When calculated based on the same calendar year, we see that only 371 homes sold in this district in 2017, that had a listing date of the same year. This calculates out to just 50.40% conversion rate, an indication of low demand.
Average Sale Price
It’s no surprise that average sale prices are a top indicator of overall demand. Especially when they are on the rise for most school district markets.
On the surface, the logic is simple: How much are consumers willing to pay for a home inside a school district? The higher the price, or, the more consistent sale prices increase, the better the school district is, in the eyes of home buyers.
This is what leverage is all about. Understanding these statistics, and the factors at play, to be better suited and prepared to tackle your real estate goals.
Going back to our #1 market, Shenedehowa School District, we saw home sales keep pace with the overall supply, which is of large volume. But what if sale prices were below average and more affordable to buyers?
We most certainly would see better ratios, higher than the already impressive 81%. But the fact that the average sale price within the Shenendehowa School District finished at $298,360 for 2017, is an even better indication of overall demand and perception by consumers within this school district market.
A nearly $300,000 average sale price is nothing to sniff at. Home buyers are willing to pay over a quarter of a million dollars to own a home within this district, which is a clear indication of how popular a school district is.
TOP 5 MARKETS FOR SALE PRICE: 2017
MINIMUM 100 SALES
- Saratoga Springs: $390,591
- North Colonie: $310,975
- Stillwater: $302,592
- Shenendehowa: $298,360
- Bethlehem: $294,142
As an example of comparison, consider that the final average sale price for all 479 home sales within the Schenectady City School District, for 2017, did not even eclipse six figures. Although barley missing, the final average sale price was just $98,665. This number tells us that demand is lacking, and failing to dive up real estate sale prices.
Home style of course, has a lot to do with average sale prices. Which is why we discuss segmentation so much. A two bedroom Townhome, does not compare with a four bedroom Colonial home, so understanding common home styles within a market is key when weighing average sale prices.
Our #2 market, South Colonie, ended up with an average sale price of $215,136 in 2017. A much more affordable price for home buyers, but of course, unlike the Shenendehowa market, the South Colonie real estate market is riddled with three bedroom Ranch style homes, which fetch a lower price than the abundance of four bedroom Colonial homes in Shenedenhowa School District.
Nevertheless, the South Colonie school district average sale price in 2017, was the highest average sale price ever recorded in the history of this market, and, while Ranch homes do indeed dominate, this market still sold 76 Colonial homes in 2017, for an average sale price of $300,539.
Again, segmenting by home style is so important, because averages are skewed based on smaller homes selling for smaller prices.
But the point is still made. Average sale prices whether on the rise, or consistently high, are a clear indication of demand in the real estate market, especially inside a school district’s immediate market.
Days on Market
In 2017, the fastest real estate markets in the Capital Region, based on school districts of course, looked like this:
- Bethlehem: 35 days on market
- North Colonie: 42 days on market
- South Colonie: 42 days on market
- Ballston Spa: 43 days on market
- Shenendehowa: 47 days on market
One look at these school districts tells us what we already know. These schools are already deemed some of the best in the Capital Region, and the time it takes to sell a home in these markets clearly indicates demand.
When there is low demand, there is no angst to jump on a particular product for sale, in this case, the product is real estate. It’s common sense, and the law of supply and demand working no differently than it would for any other category of products in which the human population consumes.
This list of the Top 5 fastest markets in 2017 was not due to affordability. Two of these markets just missed the $300,000 average sale price market, with just North Colonie eclipsing that at $310,975.
South Colonie was the lowest at $215,136, but as mentioned in the previous section, once you segment by home style, and look at the history of the market, sale prices in South Colonie are growing rapidly, despite their overall affordability.
When you combine fast sales with higher than average prices, the general public is telling us how they perceive a particular school district, and their behavior towards available real estate within these districts, are a clear indication of where demand lies, without thoughts of school district test scores and graduation rates.
To add more context to this categorical example, let’s look at the slowest markets of 2017, and see if there are any highly regarded school districts in this list.
- Schenectady City School District: 75 days on market
- Mechanicville School District: 77 days on market
- Stillwater School District: 81 days on market
- Ravena-Coeymans School District: 90 days on market
- Watervliet City School Distirct: 95 days on market
The writing is on the wall when it comes to overall demand within a school district real estate market. This information is used to educate home buyers and sellers , the main purpose of our brokerage firm and content development.
If you’re a home seller, in the slowest, lowest demand real estate market in the region, then pricing your home more aggressively will help you to sell it faster, and for the most possible money, by understanding where your market sits in the eyes of home buyers.
Home buyers can use this information to make a smart home buying decision when looking to purchase within a particular market. The unfortunate truth is, between the real estate industry’s propaganda, and broad reporting on how well the real estate market is overall, it fails to drill down into the facts of the immediate resale market that 90% of the home buying and selling public partakes in.
Not to mention, the agents, representing home buyers and sellers are without regard, in most cases, on where their clients sit on price, but only care about hitting that closing table for a pay day.
This results in home buyers overpaying for homes that don’t warrant such prices, and can also result on home sellers being misled during their listing process, only to find themselves sitting on the market with no offers, often wondering where the “hot market” went that everyone is talking about.
Taxes could have been easily talked about earlier here. The amount of taxes a home owner has to pay on a home, is an absolute key factor into determining the marketability of a home and the willingness of a home buyer to inherit the tax bill for the property, especially if it is high.
We see time and time again, homes selling for higher than average prices, due to the low taxes attached to the property. There is no doubt that total taxes paid on your home, between school and property, have everything to do with how much your home is worth.
We see Ranch style homes, located in the South Colonie School District, fetch over $140,000 for less than 900 square feet of living space. Compare that to places such as Troy, and you’re likely to see the same exact home size and layout, sell for much less, due to higher taxes.
So you think you own a home in a market with high demand? You better check your tax bill. While certain markets with high taxes can certainly still net a great price, there are cases in our region where certain home sellers struggle, and we attribute high taxes as the reason why.
Of course, using multiple statistical categories to rank school districts in order of demand is no easy task, and requires a formula to separate the 32 districts we follow.
Our final 2017 Capital Region School District rankings below, takes the statistical categories discussed here and then applies an algorithm to assign points to each district, based on their weekly performance within the real estate market.
This is a 52 week running total of points scored, based on how well these markets have performed in the main real estate categories that measure supply and demand.
We feel that, in comparison to the way school districts are currently ranked, the most of the top markets you find in our rankings do indeed match up with the already highly ranked schools based on graduation rates and test scores.
However, real estate market statistics and home buyer demand, is evident within these rankings, telling us where Capital Region consumers want to live, and what they are willing to pay for homes based on the school district and other factors.
When schools are ranked on metrics such as testing and graduation rates, we feel there are too many moving parts associated with such a method. Humans are not a market that can be tracked, thus, measuring competency every year is purely the result of happenstance.
Real estate is a market, which consistently performs based on the laws of supply and demand. It tells us where consumers want to be, and where they don’t want to be.
This is the newest method for ranking school districts.
Capital Region School District Rankings: 2017
- Shenendehowa: 1100 Points
- South Colonie: 1015 Points
- Guilderland: 1001 Points
- North Colonie: 982 Points
- Ballston Spa: 966 Points
- Saratoga Springs: 958 Points
- Bethlehem: 957 Points
- Niskayuna: 789 Points
- Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake: 725 Points
- Albany: 718 Points
- East Greenbush: 684 Points
- Mohonasen-Draper: 649 Points
- Schenectady: 530 Points
- Stillwater: 526 Points
- Averill Park: 475 Points
- Scotia-Glenville: 454 Points
- Schuylerville: 440 Points
- Lansingburgh: 439 Points
- Voorheesville: 428 Points
- Waterford-Halfmoon: 411 Points
- Troy: 406 Points
- Ravena-Coeymans: 375 Points
- Brittonkill-Brunswick: 369 Points
- Rensselaer: 367 Points
- Menands: 334 Points
- Mechanicville: 305 Points
- Schalmont: 305 Points
- Wynantskill: 289 Points
- Schodack: 285 Points
- Cohoes: 274 Points
- Watervliet: 152 Points
- North Greenbush: 144 Points