OK friends, let’s have some fun this week and talk about predictions. I say “fun” because while I can base some of what I say on past experiences, a lot of it is also a guess. A year from now I could find that I was wrong. So let’s have some fun with this and grant me some grace if my opinion on upcoming trends proves to be wrong.
You see, nobody can predict the future. I giggle every time I drive by the house that says “fortune teller” on the sign out front. It caught on fire a few years ago and I always sarcastically think “what, you can read my future but didn’t know that your business was going to burn down?” But during the last 15 years, I have seen a few trends in our market, and I have predicted them.
For example, when there was a Kidron Elementary and a Dalton Elementary School (each kindergarten through fifth grade), Kidron had higher property values than Dalton. Some families would either buy in Kidron because their family for generations had lived there and gone to that school, or they wanted to buy in Kidron so that their kids could go to Kidron Elementary and then go to Central Christian at the end of that fifth-grade year.
I remember years ago having a house that didn’t appraise in Dalton. At that time, realtors were allowed to talk to appraisers and I asked him how he could value it at X amount when there were several comps in Kidron that had sold supporting the Dalton value and in the same school district. The appraiser said, “Esta, Kidron homes appraise for about 10 percent higher than Dalton.”
When Dalton and Kidron split grades, I knew that the values of Kidron would go down, and go down quickly, because there was no longer Kidron Elementary. I was right. Within a very short period of time, the values leveled out between the two communities.
I have seen trends where people move into a school district because of new buildings or out of a town due to increased crime or increased taxes. A buyer might call and say, “I am open to any area in the county except X, Y and Z because their taxes are so high.” I had a teacher years ago whose son open enrolled in a district that offered his favorite sport – one that the district they were living in didn’t have.
My guess is that we will also see trends based on the coronavirus. Currently there are two topics that I try to avoid. One is politics. The other is anything connected to coronavirus. Opinions and feelings are strong on both topics and I respect that everyone does what they feel is best or right in these areas. So it just isn’t discussed. Or if it is, nobody leaves with warm fuzzies. So I hesitated to write this today but realize that there is real value in the conversation from a real estate standpoint.
In case you were wondering, our boys are going back to school. But I knew that they would in April when my then 8-year-old had me in tears over his journal. He asked me what to write and then refused any ideas I gave him — even a simple writing prompt of what he had for breakfast.. One day, I was mentally done. The tears started rolling down my face and I called Andy at his shop. I said, “I am done. You have to finish school.” And for the rest of our terrible second grade homeschool experience, my wonderful husband would get the kids up and do their homework with them before he headed to the shop.
Now, you have to know my background. I have a bachelor’s degree in special education K-12 and a few months before graduating, the dean of the special education department asked me to stay and offered me a free master’s degree in preschool education. He knew that I was a teacher at heart (I said no because I was getting married in a month and needed to get a full time job to support my husband who was still in school). If anyone should be successful in homeschooling it should be us, right? I have literally prayed every day since then that my kids would be able to go back to school this fall. I don’t care if they have to wear masks or steel armor, it is best for everyone’s sanity in the Ryder house! Yet, I completely respect and understand everyone’s decision to choose differently.
Not only did I feel sorry for myself during the homeschool experience, I feel sorry for so many student athletes. There were a lot of heartbroken kids who lost their spring season. And all summer my mind kept going to the fall as it was a rollercoaster wondering what would happen. I kept thinking about the kids who really truly need the fall sports not just to have guidance from coaches when there may be no guidance at home but for those who needed to play to get scholarships, which may be a way to a better life.
That’s when I made my predictions. I made it based on experience of past trends, of 15 plus years of experience, of seeing what makes a real estate market change or an area become a hot market or a declining area. Are my predictions going to be right? I don’t know. At the end of the day, what I think doesn’t matter. It is more just fun to do a little something different with my column this week. To get us thinking and paying attention to the market around us. To see if I end up being right or if I am like the fortune teller whose business burned down and I am completely wrong. It will be interesting (I would say fun but not sure if that is the right word) to look back in a year and visit the results to see if they are even close to what I am thinking.
So here is what I predict. I predict that the schools with the most options win. I think that the districts who allow fall sports and give parents the option of full time in school or full time online will be the districts that see the most real estate sales in the next 12 months and I think that those who didn’t offer this will see an increased amount of people leaving their district.
If you are a parent who, like me, would rather give up chocolate forever and only eat vegetables for the rest of her life than to teach her kids at home, you may find yourself entertaining the idea of moving to a district that will allow you that five day a week in school option. Just like if you are a parent who feels most comfortable with their children staying home, you would most likely consider other options or areas to live if you were only given the option of five days a week face to face. So in the area of district popularity, in my opinion, the district with the most options wins.
If you are a parent whose kid is a die-hard fall athlete and their identity is wrapped up in that sport, or they are a senior, or they are a borderline scholarship athlete and really need to play to tip the scales in the scholarship direction, fall sports may become your decision maker. So I see the schools who offer fall sports and all of the sports season this year (assuming that is an option) will see a potential increase in home sales in that community.
With regard to sports, I predicted this months ago and we are already seeing it in other states. I told my husband this would happen and within a week of me saying it, I read an article about two very good athletes from Illinois moving out of state to play their senior season when their fall sports were canceled. For a girl with no athletic ability, it was kind of fun to make an accurate sports prediction!
Of course, even if one wants to have these options, there are certainly some hurdles to make a major move based on sports or academics. Do you really want to sell your house for a year? Is there any inventory in the area where you would be moving? If your family is wrapped up in the identity of a certain school district (like my boys being fourth generation Bulldog) that would keep them from really wanting to move? Are you making the decision for the right reasons (is my sanity the right reason to move my kids to a new school should our school have decided to do only online or should I just deal with it?) And with so many changes so regularly what would happen if you made the move to avoid online schooling (in our case) only to have the governor say the entire state is moving that direction?
There are two things about predictions. One is they are simply someone’s opinion. Everyone can make different predictions based on their own thoughts, opinions and experiences. The other thing is that they can be completely wrong.
We can’t predict what the real estate market will do, or job market, or even what horse will win at the track (well, someone might get that one right on occasion but the odds are not in their favor!). So I could follow up with this column in six months and find that I was completely wrong! After all, 12 months ago, did any of us think life would look like it does right now?
Maybe the word prediction is wrong. Maybe the word opinion is better. Or I should say “in my imagination.” To be a writer of any kind you must have an imagination, if nothing else to make what you share interesting to your reader. Imagine how boring it would be to read a book without personal stories in it. We are all just taking life day by day. And I’m sure, like me, you are counting your blessings in this crazy time. My question to you is, what are your predictions?
Whether you are sending kids off to school or teaching them at home, rest assured that you are making the best decision for your family. Trust your instinct and your judgment and know that you are doing what is best for these kids who you love with all of your heart. And whatever you decide, I am in your corner cheering you on!
Esta Ryder, Broker/Owner
Ryder Realty, LLC