There Goes the Neighborhood

According to someone who works in Oakland Unified’s district office, parents in the Redwood Heights neighborhood are worried that property values will drop now that a standardized test cheating incident at the local elementary school has invalidated the school’s test scores for 2009-2010.

Now, there’s no question that test scores influence home prices. People pay a premium to live within Hillcrest’s boundaries and are peeved when they learn that the address doesn’t guarantee a spot in the spectacularly successful K-8 school. But is it possible that one year of no API could translate into a loss of home values in the neighborhood? We asked real estate maven Vanessa Bergmark with Red Oak Realty.

The short answer is no. However, the cheating episode at Redwood Heights School was a topic of discussion at Bergmark’s office. Would agents have to disclose the incident to buyers, an agent wondered. Bergmark’s gut told her that cheating in one classroom in one year didn’t make the cut. Although, ultimately it will be the lawyers who decide. With a school like Redwood Heights, which has great test scores, combined with the support of a committed and diverse community, the only danger is that anxious residents would convey the message that something was amiss and “create their own destiny,” said Bergmark.

Deidre Joyner, a real estate agent with Red Oak whose children are third-generation graduates of Redwood Heights School, said she hasn’t heard any of her neighbors worry about the lack of an API score for 2009-2010 influencing home prices, which she says range from $560,000 to around $750,000.

As Bergmark said, it’s all about perception. She offered the example of listings in North Oakland that fall within the borders of the city’s gang injunction. Is it a selling point if a home is in the “North Oakland Safety Zone?” It depends on how you look at it.

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