A few weeks ago, I asked a real estate agent what people were looking for when they bought home.

“Good schools,” she replied.

“And what about couples with no kids or older people who don’t have school-aged kids?” I asked.

“Doesn’t matter – same thing.” she said. “Homebuyers believe that good schools mean good neighborhoods and it doesn’t matter if they don’t have kids or will never have kids. To them, good schools mean good neighborhoods.”

New homes = new kids?

The Costa Mesa Planning Commission is considering a proposed 13 unit residential complex in the section of Mesa Verde near Adams Ave. and Mesa Verde Dr. The units will be two story and the average lot size will be 5K to 5.5K square feet.

Sounds like a nice place to raise kids and send them to the local school. Except that the local school is Adams Elementary and, well,  Adams isn’t doing that well. In fact, greatschools.org, a popular website for potential homebuyers, ranks Adams at a 5 on a scale of 10. Many homeowners with kids in Mesa Verde have avoided Adams for years and the school district is trying everything but giving away a set of steak knives to get them back.

The underwhelming rating affects more than just the potential buyers of the new units. Existing home buyers are taking a hit on their property values as well. But other than a new program that is set up to skim the cream of the student crop – which will automatically make the resulting grades and test scores good – there isn’t a lot being done. Oh, yeah, there is also that new steel fence going up around the field (unlike the one at Anderson Elementary in Newport Beach that doesn’t surround the field).

That fence around the field should be really attractive to the potential homebuyers.

One element the developers have to consider is that the sales process of these new units is different today than it was several years ago. Today, the potential buyer is checking out nearby schools online and if they don’t like what they see, they move on and the sales agent never gets a shot. It could be that for every inquiry they get, 10 others checked the school ranking and said, “No thanks” without even picking up the phone.

So, what to do… If I were the developer of these new units, I’d be jumping on every desk at Bear St. demanding more than just an Academy with hand-picked students and demanding that the new fence not surround the field (looks far less intimidating without it).