Check your school district before you buy

And as much as it pains me to say, don’t necessarily trust the MLS. Here is why (I’ve written about this numerous time over the years)-

School districts change all the time. I tell my clients that they shouldn’t feel confident that they will remain in the school district in which they think they’re buying unless they can throw a rock from their front porch and hit the school – and even then the lines may be redrawn.

When a Realtor puts a property in the MLS, it’s all too easy to simply copy the listing from the last time it was on the market – square footage, number of bedrooms, acreage … school district – and activate the listing without verifying said information.

According to Brian Wheeler the School Board occasionally receives attendance appeals because of incorrect information in the MLS.

Wheeler says almost every year during the past decade there has been a redistricting matter in front of the school board.  Some large, some small.  All potentially changing the boundaries for Albemarle County’s school feeder patterns.
Here’s a brief recent history of Albemarle County:

2008 – Nothing yet
2007 – Spot redistricting around Crozet
2006 – County wide redistricting, Phase II implemented
2005 – County wide redistricting, Phase I implemented
2004 – Aborted spot redistricting around Meriwether Lewis
2003 – Aborted Middle School redistricting
2002 – Aborted spot redistricting
2002 – Aborted Middle School redistricting
2001 – Redistricting to open Baker-Butler in 2002
Redistricting to open Monticello in 1998
Here’s what could happen –

– Buyers want a home in a certain school district and tells their Realtor.
– Realtor sets up an automatic search based on said school district.
– Property comes on the market, they like it and buy it, based on the information in the MLS.
– They think it’s in the Murray Elementary School district, but it’s actually in the Greer Elementary School district, and feeds into a different Middle School district than they were expecting.
– What should the buyers do? *

This is the disclaimer at the bottom of every MLS sheet – “Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed–Copyright: 2008 by the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS®”

Lesson learned? Realtors should be the source of the source, and tell their clients that they should independently verify all information.

Here is where to go to see in what school district (in Albemarle) your current or future property is located. (Tell your Realtor)

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  1. patience January 11, 2008 at 14:34

    So true. Redistricting aside, in some cases, the district stated is just wrong. For example, when we bought our house, it was listed as being in the Clark school district. I believed that for over a year, before someone told me that our street is actually in the Jackson-Via district–even though we are within walking distance of Clark. Since then, I’ve been to several open houses in my neighborhood in which the elementary school is listed incorrectly as Clark.

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  6. John Going February 18, 2013 at 16:48

    Hey Jim,

    The link embedded above (“Here is where to go….”) is not working. Do you have an updated link?


    1. Jim Duncan February 18, 2013 at 22:30

      Thanks, John. I fixed it.


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